By Molly Hayden, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii Public AffairsFebruary 27, 2009
HONOLULU - A small crowd gathered in the Wo Auditorium at Punahou School here, Feb. 17, to celebrate a recent achievement of the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) and the relationship it holds with the military in Hawaii.
The Punahou School Patch Ceremony brought together cadets and distinguished guests as cadets returned patches from various units, representing all branches of services. The cadets had carried the patches during the presidential inauguration parade in Washington, D.C.
Unit patches included those from the 25th Infantry Division (ID), 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, Tripler Army Medical Center, 8th Theater Sustainment Command, and numerous others. Safety officers and community businesses, including the Ice Palace and the Arizona Memorial, were also represented.
Retired Lt. Col. Robert Takao, Punahou's JROTC senior Army instructor, welcomed the crowd and praised members of the community, key supporters and military leaders for their support.
"We could not have done this without the selfless support of the community," said Takao. "Relationships are what it is all about, and we are one big team, together."
Seventeen Punahou JROTC cadets joined more than 150 marching band members, cheerleaders and students from Punahou High School, along with advisors and chaperones, as they welcomed former student, President Barrack Obama into office in Washington D.C., Jan. 20.
The stroll down Pennsylvania Avenue following Obama's swearing-in ceremony was a monumental moment for each.
"I remember meeting Obama and listening to him speak when I was in the sixth grade," said Cadet Staff Sgt. Daniel Dangaran, JROTC. "He was a senator then, and his speech was inspiring. I learned so much from him.
"And years later I was a part of history," said Dangaran. "It was so amazing."
Cadets lined up to present members of the armed forces with plaques displaying the unit patches carried during the inaugural parade.
A small screen displayed video clips of the recent trip to Washington. Although the crowd was small at the inauguration, the cheers were loud as Obama and his family flashed the shaka to passing JROTC cadets. The cadets grinned from ear to ear as they watched the video, mentally reliving the once-in-a-lifetime moment.
"While I was there, I realized I was not only marching for the JROTC or Punahou School," said Dangaran. "I was marching for the 25th ID and representing all of Hawaii, our home.
"Being a part of something so big really shows you how small you are in the standard of history," said Dangaran. "It was an opportunity of a lifetime, and I am grateful I was able to be a part of it."