For the second consecutive year, the Nisei Veterans Committee and NVC Foundation held a Veterans Day event. Our Veterans Day event is in memory of the late Tosh Okamoto, who asked the Nisei Veterans Committee to host an annual Veterans Day event.
After the introductions, we kicked off the event with the Pledge of Allegiance led by Yuki Willis.
The keynote speaker was Brigadier General (Retired) Oscar B. Hilman. BG Hilman spoke on several topics including Veterans Affairs improvements, how the Filipino WWII veterans received the Congressional Gold Medal, and how the Nisei Veterans Congressional Gold Medal campaign helped them plan their strategy. I was pleasantly surprised by his slide show and his talk about NVC life member Colonel Stan Seo and me.
When BG Hilman emailed me the slide show, I just downloaded it on the laptop without looking at it, so I was unaware of the contents. COL Seo and I served under BG Hilman’s command in Iraq with the 81st Brigade Combat Team. BG Hilman talked about COL Seo’s career and his duties in Iraq, and about my job and being temporarily assigned to the 1st Infantry Division in Tikrit.
We also took the opportunity to welcome three Vietnam War veterans and thank them for their service. They were asked to come forward and stand before the audience. We welcomed them home and read a thank you message from a citizen thanking them for their service. The message was written on a card signed by the citizen. We presented the card to the Vietnam War veterans along with the NVC coin.
This year we incorporated the reading of names of NVC veterans who passed away in the last year. Takeo Willis tolled a bell after each name was read. I did not comprehend the impact at the time, but in the days since that event several family members of the veterans who passed away have approached me thanking the NVC for remembering their father and his service to our nation.
I want the thank NVC Vice President and Keiro Northwest CEO Bridgette Takeuchi Willis for allowing her children to participate in the Veterans Day event. Her daughter Yuki lead us in the Pledge of Allegiance, and her son Takeo tolled the bell during the reading of veterans who have passed away in the last year. It was great to see the next generation participating and taking interest in their legacy.
Lastly, I want to thank all of our volunteers for making this another successful celebration. I hope to see our guests and new guests come by for next year’s Veterans Day event!