FORT SHAFTER -- This year marked the 34th anniversary of the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps Awards Ceremony and Review at the historic Palm Circle, April 21.
As school buses file into Fort Shafter, students from all high schools in Hawaii are making last minute adjustments to their uniforms, practicing marching movements, and other drills for the annual JROTC ceremony that's about to take place.
What makes this year's ceremony special is not only is it the 34th anniversary but it also marks the 100th year of the JROTC program.
The event was hosted by the 311th Signal Command's (Theater) commanding general, Maj. Gen. Lawrence W. Brock III, and officiated by Hawaii Governor, David Ige.
"The Hawaii JROTC Program is the second largest in the nation when comparing the number of high school students in JROTC to the total number of high schools in the state," said Ige.
"Not only is that distinction a representation of the number of students we have here in Hawaii who are engaged in the program, but it also speaks to the commitment our community has to public service and to truly serving our state and our nation," Ige said. "Each cadet here is an example of many of the important qualities that makes a good leader and a great citizen."
"For those who are out there, you've established a strong foundation for future successes," Brock said to the formation out on the field. "The objectives of the ROTC are to instill self-reliance, develop communication skills, foster team building, and cultivate a life-long appreciation for physical and mental fitness."
The "Kina'Ole" award, an engraved poi bowl, was presented to twenty-six cadets from the Kina'Ole Foundation in recognition of their contributions to their schools and community.
"These cadets represent our future,' said Lt. Col. Antoinette Correia, JROTC Program Manager, "and it is a culmination of everything they do in JROTC and they get to demonstrate that in a formal event with so many supporters."
The word Kina'Ole generally translates to a Hawaiian term defining a concept of flawlessness. It has been presented to cadets for the past six years when Col. Raymond Jardine created it back in 2010 to recognize one cadet from each program who have displayed Kina'Ole traits which are described as 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 -- the first time.
"I look forward to coming to the ceremony because, I look at these young men and they give me hope for our future," said retired veteran Thomas Tanaka of the Hawaii Veterans Association.
In addition to the award presentations, Brock and Ige conducted a formal pass in review to inspect the cadets as the Marine Corps Forces Pacific Band played service medleys.
Brig. Gen. Suzanne Vares-Lum, who is the Mobilization Assistant to Director of Strategic Plans and Policy, U.S. Pacific Command, was recognized for her accomplishments and inducted into the University of Hawaii, Manoa's ROTC General Officers Hall of Fame making her the 19th addition.
To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the JROTC program, a cake was specially made for the occasion as well as the JROTC 100-Year Anniversary reading.
To conclude the ceremony, a select group of cadets representing the JROTC programs of their schools participated in a march in review ceremony which allowed them to display their abilities in drill and ceremony.
Junior ROTC is an elective career and technical education high school credit course. Hawaii's JROTC program, which is managed by the Hawaii Department of Education, consists of 26 schools (24 public and 2 private) across the entire state. Cadets are involved in a number of activities including academic, physical fitness, adventure, drill, and cyber-defense competitions.
"To you seniors and under classmen who will soon follow them," said Brock, "remember the lessons learned through your JROTC program will last and serve you well throughout the rest of your life."