U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific Marines and surrounding area service members took precedence on the dock of the USS Missouri here, April 24.
Civilians and service members attended the opening ceremony for the 23rd consecutive celebration of the Hawaii Military Appreciation Month.
This month-long celebration is hosted by the Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii and led by the Military Affairs Council to honor those who serve and fight for their country.
Filling the space inside the tent, 800 service members in uniform and military family members, civilians and representatives from supporting businesses of an equal amount, took their seats as the prelude was played by the Pacific Fleet Band.
"This is my first time attending such a glorified ceremony," said Lance Cpl. Hector Portillo, company office clerk, Headquarters and Service Battalion, MARFORPAC. "It shows the true patriotism of the people and the reason we serve."
Portillo said the ceremony shows the people [of Hawaii] care about what we do and it gives us a chance to get to know them a little better in all.
"It encourages us to do a good job and better ourselves," Portillo said.
As the ceremony commenced, the sound of a light pitter-patter could be heard overhead as rain hit the thick canvas roof of the tent. But, the rain didn’t dampen the spirits of the crowd.
As masters of ceremonies took their place, Carole Kai and Danny Kaleikini, the jovial words of Kaleikini, in his Hawaiian tongue, flowed over the crowd as he gave a big "Alohaaaaaaaaaa!"
Following came the presentation of the colors conducted by a joint service color guard and a live performance of the National Anthem and the Hawaiian anthem, “Hawai'i Pono'i,” sung by Kaleikini with the Hawaii Pacific University International Vocal Ensemble.
"This is the fourth year [performing at] the event and we're very honored to be here," said Nicholas Walters, core manager of the ensemble and former Marine.
Walters said he was enlisted for four years and it's a great honor to give back and be able to do what people have done for him.
After the retiring of the colors, the numerous names of dignitaries were annonunced and an invocation was given by Navy Cmdr. Steven Unger, Staff Chaplain, Navy Region Hawaii.
A grand welcoming was given by Jim Tollefson, president and chief executive officer, Bank of Hawaii; Mayor Mufi Hannemann, City and County of Honolulu; Admiral Timothy Keating, commander, U.S. Pacific Command; Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle, and many others.
"Spend one minute a day to think about where service members are, what they're doing and how they're risking their lives," Lingle said. "The military is needed and should be acknowledged and appreciated."
With the closing of the ceremony, the service members and supporters were given the opportunity to socialize, tour the Missouri, dance the night away with the Pacific Force's "Hana Hou Combo," and explore cuisines and refreshments offered by local restaurants.
The next event being held will be a Combined Military Band Concert at the Blaisdell Concert Hall, May 16. The concert is free to the public and will begin at 9 p.m.