Veterans Corner: Grand opening to be a day to remember

Community Contributed

By Jesse Church

Aloha all my fellow veterans and residents of Molokai, old Jesse here with all the veterans news and upcoming events. Time is really short, just two days until a day to remember for all veterans and people of Molokai — of heck, for all Hawaii — Aug. 14, the dedication and grand opening of the Molokai Veterans Center. That will truly be a great day for all the people of Molokai, not just veterans, it’s a day that all of Molokai has been waiting 10 years for. I’m sure that everyone will want to bring a camera to get lots of pictures and on this day there will be lots of talking story and everybody should really have a wonderful time. It’s been a long time coming, and our calm endurance and patience will finally be rewarded. Like the Marines say, it’s not how you reach the objective but that you reach it and secure it, which Molokai’s veterans have done.

I am truly grateful to and extremely appreciative of all the men and women who have helped Molokai veterans, and also the veterans who volunteered to work on the building. All these people spent long, hard hours, with just one thing in their mind — to get the job done. It’s you people that gave of your time and money and are the true unsung heroes. My hat is off to you all, but a simple mahalo is not an adequate expression of gratitude. I do not want to forget all our fellow veterans on Maui, Lanai, Hawaii Island, Oahu and Kauai, all your help and advice was greatly appreciated and we are grateful for your efforts on our behalf. We thank you from the bottom of our battle-weary hearts.

I know that I wrote about these three people in last week’s column but I truly believe their contributions to the Molokai veterans was great, and a few lines is not enough. The people I’m talking about are the three people who founded the Molokai Veterans Caring for Veterans. Patti Byrd, Wendell De Freitas and the last Larry Helm — the trio did so much to get the organization up and running. They wrote letters to political leaders asking for help, applied for all the grants that they thought they could get, invested many, many hours. Patti was the person who found the “bunker,” Larry got the county to pay rent, and Wendell wrote letters. Then the three of them set their sights on building a veterans center for Molokai. Larry became the commander, Wendell was the vice commander and Patti was the secretary. They all worked tirelessly. The commander started getting calls from a very uncooperative Maui County Mayor Charmaine Tavares, but they continued the push. Patti’s heart was with the Molokai veterans but she had to move to the mainland — I hope she can make the trip.

Let us support all the brave men and women in uniform and those in harm’s way, let’s all wish them a speedy and safe return home. May everyone join Molokai’s veterans on Friday, Aug. 14 for the dedication and grand opening of Molokai’s veterans center. My hope is for our veterans and people to use it wisely and diligently and preserve it so future generations of veterans may enjoy it. Everyone stop old Jesse on Friday and say hello, I love every one of you and hope to see you on the day to remember.

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