FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii (April 11, 2013) -- Hawaii's top Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets were honored during the 31st annual Governor's JROTC Awards Ceremony and Review at Fort Shafter's historic Palm Circle April 11.
More than 800 cadets representing 26 schools participated in the event, which was hosted by Brig. Gen. Janice Haigler, deputy commanding general, 311th Signal Command (Theater), and Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie.
Haigler and Abercrombie were joined on the field by Dr. Raymond Jardine, the Kina-Ole Foundation Chairman, and the three presented 26 cadets, one from each high school, with the Kina'Ole award and an engraved poi bowl.
Kina`ole is a Hawaiian term defining a concept of flawlessness, or more specifically, doing the right thing in the right way at the right time, in the right place, to the right person, for the right reason, with the right feeling- for the first time.
"Pono means doing things the correct way," said Abercrombie. "Kina'ole, I think, takes that concept a bit further. The ROTC after all is the oldest character and education and citizenship development program taught in American high schools today."
The JROTC program began 100 years ago with only six units and today has grown to more than 3,200 units strong. Hawaii's JROTC program, managed by the Hawaii Department of Education, consists of 17 Army, four Air Force, four Navy and one Marine Corps unit.
Following the awards, the McKinley Highschool Rifle Team exhibited their advanced drill and ceremony skills. Haigler and Abercrombie then conducted an inspection of troops, the field of cadets presented the colors, Haigler gave a speech, and the ceremony concluded with a pass and review.
For the past four years, the 311th Signal Command has been the executive agent for the event. The 311th is the designated Signal command for the Army Service Component Commands within the Pacific theater. Soldiers of the 311th set up the field and JROTC instructors provided guidance, but the JROTC Cadets lead the ceremony itself.
"We as instructors do the coordination for this event, and act as advisors, but when it comes to the operations, it's all the cadets… they do all the work," said retired Army Lt. Col Les Bise, Assistant Director of Army Instructions, Department of Education. "It then goes back to self-esteem, their experience in leadership, application of things they learned in class at the ceremony, so the Governor's ceremony represents the entire year and recognizes all 26 programs."
Cadets on the field were grateful to have had the experience.
"Shaking hands with the governor was a great honor," said Cadet Lt. Col. Eric Arzaga, a senior at Farrington High School and Kina'ole Award recipient. "Being out here really strengthened our discipline, especially the physical discipline of having to be at the position of attention for such a long period of time and yet keep our military bearing. "
Haigler shared specific advice for the cadets.
"During your time at Jr. ROTC, you have experienced what it is to be a part of something bigger than yourself, and I hope that it has changed you for the better in some way," she said. "Continue that change and use your creativity to see the world from a broader perspective. Expand your cultural awareness. Celebrate diversity. Be willing to take the risk of stepping outside of your comfort zone. Trust in your values and the tools that Jr. ROTC has given you, because the blend of your experience and your education will enable you to do the tough jobs well. Carry that Kina'ole forward. And finally, on your way towards saving the world, don't forget to take care of yourself and your families."