Veterans Day is special to me. It’s a day when I often get to spend time with fellow veterans from many different generations, share stories, and remember our brothers and sisters who never made that long trip home. We will never forget.
Senator Mazie Hirono and I worked together for years on legislation that finally awards the well-deserved Congressional Gold Medal to World War II Filipino veterans—legislation that Barack Obama signed into law as one of his final acts as president. Last month, Mazie and I welcomed many of these veterans to the US Capitol, where we presented this long-overdue recognition to heroes like Sixto Tabay, the last living WWII Filipino veteran on Kaua?i, and around 200,000 others who served.
Recently, I hosted a screening of the film “Go for Broke: Origins” at the US Capitol in honor of the 100th Infantry Battalion / 442nd Regimental Combat Team, units created in the aftermath of the attack on Pearl Harbor, which were made up of young Japanese-American men who volunteered to serve in the US Army, despite facing bigotry and prejudice as their families and loved ones were thrown into internment camps. Our late Senator Daniel Inouye is featured in the film as a young man who volunteered to fight for freedom alongside thousands of others. Through their courage, valor, and sacrifice, the 442nd became the most highly decorated unit in Army history.
I could share so many stories of the courage and sacrifice displayed by the men and women that I had the privilege of serving with during my deployments to the Middle East. People of all walks of life—different religions, races, political ideologies, and more—all setting aside differences and coming together with one common goal: service to our country.
It is this selflessness by our nation’s veterans that should inspire us all this Veterans Day—and every day. They have shown us through their example and their lives what ‘service and sacrifice’ really means, and how we can all find ways to set aside our own differences, respect and treat each other with aloha, and work together for the good of our communities, our country, and humanity.
Today, let us reflect on how we can honor our nation’s veterans by living aloha and being of service in our own lives.