Gathering Places


Monday, May 28, 2001

Top 10 reasons Hawaii
and the military are
good neighbors

Let me offer my Top 10 reasons why Hawaii's relationship with the armed forces is the best in the country:

>> Reason No. 10: Your famous Aloha spirit, which works because we're generally lovable. Plus, if you don't like some of us, just wait a couple of years until we move away.

>> Reason No. 9: Hawaii works with the armed forces to resolve points of friction, from past win-win compromises like Fort DeRussy and Bellows Beach to today's situation with Makua. The people of Hawaii know their warriors must be trained and ready.

>> Reason No. 8: With 47,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines, 20,000 civilians and 65,000 family members, the Defense Department contributes about 19 percent of the state's tax revenues, or $640 million, and about 15 percent of the Gross State Product. That's a lot of malasadas.

>> Reason No. 7: We help keep America safe; that keeps business free to develop. Hawaii understands the Asian global economy much better than the mainland does.

>> Reason No. 6: Our big floating outdoor movie theater down at Pearl Harbor is pretty cool, even better than Consolidated's 16-plex at Ward's newest development. It's good for other things, too.

>> Reason No. 5: We take our children's education seriously. We're team players on the new "America's Promise" program, starting with Roosevelt High School. Our budget supplements help to improve Hawaii's public schools with a high percentage of military children.

We support the "Adopt-a-School Program," where we provide computers, help tutor or coach, or help clean up buildings and grounds. Physical fitness necessary for military parents often rubs off -- that's why there are grown-up military "brats" out there like Tiger Woods, Mia Hamm and Shaquille O'Neal.

>> Reason No. 4: We turn out good citizens, even when they decide not to make the armed forces a career. America and Hawaii would be different without the military experience that affected the lives of 10 of our last 11 presidents, astronaut Ellison Onizuka, and businessman Jay Hormel -- the inventor of Spam.

Hawaii sets an example: In the Senate, 40 of 100 senators are veterans, but only 13 served in combat. Hawaii is two for two, with Senator Akaka and the recipient of the Medal of Honor, Senator Inouye.

>> Reason No. 3: We like to be good neighbors because this is our home, even if it's only for two to four years. Our young men and women and their spouses cheer for children at the Special Olympics, lead Scout troops, coach Little League, rappel down the face of Diamond Head to pick up trash, wield hammers with Habitat for Humanity, scuba dive to pick up junk underwater and help to deliver Meals on Wheels.

>> Reason No. 2: There's a long-standing partnership that includes the Army's Military Assistance to Safety and Traffic, or MAST. The Army provides a helicopter and medical team that can respond anywhere on Oahu in 10 minutes. They're on alert 24 by 7 by 365, and they transport patients at no cost to the community. Since 1974, MAST has airlifted more than 6,000 patients.

>> And the No. 1 reason Hawaii's relationship with the armed forces is the best in the country: The young men and women who put on the uniform every day to serve their country. They could make more money on the outside and not deal with deployments, exercises and being away from family. Those in the Guard and Reserves give up vacations, weekends and respond when duty calls.

They all volunteer for their own reasons -- some personal, some patriotic -- but their primary reward is the right and honor to be called soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen.

They are willing to pay the ultimate sacrifice for our country. They're my No. 1 reason for knowing that our armed forces are the best in the world.

Adm. Dennis C. Blair commands the U.S. Pacific Command from his headquarters at Camp H.M. Smith. This article was adapted from remarks delivered at a military appreciation luncheon last week.

E-mail to Editorial Editor

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]

© 2001 Honolulu Star-Bulletin