PUNCHBOWL (HawaiiNewsNow) - A flourish of flags and a collection of colorful caps. Every branch of the military was represented at Hawaii's largest Veterans Day ceremony at Punchbowl.
"We're all comrades," said retired U.S. Navy Master Chief Petty Officer Fred Ballard.
On this eleventh day of the eleventh month the 50th state joined the nation in honoring Americans who served during war and peace.
"Those of us who are veterans never think that we ever did anything really special. We just served our country, mostly when it was most difficult to do so," said Max Cleland, secretary of the American Battle Monument Commission.
"We're very humble people. We don't want much. That's why we ask people if they come across a vet or active duty, slap them on the back, shake their hand, say, 'Thanks for serving,'" Ballard said.
Historically the day was called Armistice Day. It honored those who fought in World War I.
Then in 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a bill. It changed Armistice Day to Veterans Day to recognize all Americans who served in the United States military.
There are more than 120,000 veterans in Hawaii.
While more than 1,500 people gathered at Punchbowl, a smaller but equally important ceremony was being held at the Hawaii State Veterans Cemetery in Kaneohe.
At Punchbowl, wreathes were laid by veteran service organizations. There were salutes and speeches.
"Over the last 235 years they have unwaveringly answered the call to service. These fine men and women are the ones who allow us to live each or our lives in peace, stability and harmony," Lt. Gen. Benjamin Mixon said.
"We're still involved, not only in the occupation of Iraq but we have an active war going on in Afghanistan. And on a daily basis I think most Americans tend to forget that," said Jim Clement, who served in both the U.S. Marines and U.S. Navy.
One speaker said only six percent of America's citizens serve in the military.
Veterans day was a chance for the rest of us to say thank you.