For the past 20-plus years at midnight on the 23rd of December, a gathering of veterans has taken place near the Capitol, by the memorial for our Korean and Vietnam brethren. The group includes men and women who have served in various campaigns. It is a big crowd.
There is usually some coffee, water and a snack or two. Mostly, it is a gathering to check in and renew “welcome home” greetings. It is also a time to notice who is not in attendance.
Our voices are softer and our hearing isn’t quite 100 percent, so the words of those leading prayers or the roll call of our missing companions becomes more personal as we lean in and turn up hearing aids.
Our midnight gathering leads into the 24th of December in Hawai‘i and Christmas Day in Vietnam.
Many recall our Christmas in Vietnam — where we were, who we were with, whether the cease fire remained intact that day and what was for dinner (hot chow, and if Santa was generous, one or two bottles of beer).
COVID-19 had us cancel the 2020 event. Sadly, four of us will not be at the 2021 celebration. Please join us in remembrance on Dec. 23 at midnight at the Hawai‘i State Capitol Korea-Vietnam Veterans Memorial.