By Rear Adm. Rick Williams, Commander, Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific
As we begin the New Year I am focused on embracing innovation and new challenges while preserving the past. At the same time, it’s our New Year’s Resolution to continue to pay tribute to our rich military heritage—past, present and future.
In this first commentary of the first issue of Ho‘okele for 2015 I want to tell you about a new initiative—Pearl Harbor Colors, an initiative that will help us achieve that goal of celebrating our heritage.
Here at Pearl Harbor, every day is Veterans Day. With so much history and pride, we have the perfect opportunity to broaden our commemorations in a new and exciting way. Through Pearl Harbor Colors we will honor our history and heritage, build relationships with our partners and the surrounding community, and recognize the dedication and hard work of our service members and their families in a more committed and sustainable way.
So, what exactly is Pearl Harbor Colors? It’s a ceremony to be held at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center, usually on the third Thursday of each month. There’s a potential for expanding the ceremony to our partner museums like the Battleship Missouri Memorial, Bowfin Museum and Pacific Aviation Museum as well.
Each ceremony will be unique, tied to a theme for that month and will feature a military ceremony, honor guard and performance by a military band. And each Pearl Harbor Colors event will have a tie to a Hawaii-based unit, our veterans, and our community.
The very first Pearl Harbor Colors next Thursday at 7:30 a.m. will be “A Tribute to Military Families.” All veterans and military families are cordially invited to attend, with a special welcome to families of deployed Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Soldiers. I know of several families from USS Michael Murphy (DDG 112) and USS Halsey (DDG 97) who plan to attend. Both ships are currently operating forward in support of Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet.
Monthly, Pearl Harbor Colors will be a chance for residents of Hawaii and visitors from around the world to meet and greet service members and their families. More than 1.5 million visitors are expected to come through the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center in 2015.
Pearl Harbor Colors literally brings the surrounding community closer to their military. And it provides an outreach opportunity for our military community to interact with the public we serve.
Next Thursday’s event will include a morning flag-raising, an honor guard performance and a concert by the amazing U.S. Pacific Fleet Band. Upcoming Pearl Harbor Colors themes will include African American History, Women’s History, Earth Day and Military Appreciation Month.
The name Pearl Harbor Colors, by the way, comes from the core element of our planned events—all involving the American flag. Some of the monthly events will involve “morning colors,” while others will be a sunset ceremony.
The name also reflects the beauty of Hawaii from sunrise to sunset, from mountains to sea, where we are dedicated to environmental stewardship. And, finally, “colors” stands for the differences in our uniforms and services. The Navy in Hawaii is taking the lead in setting up and starting Pearl Harbor Colors, but other services will be invited to share their pride and heritage, too.
We have the same overall mission—defense of our great nation.
Pearl Harbor Colors is a community outreach initiative that honors service and sacrifice. There’s nowhere else in the world like Pearl Harbor, where the operational Navy is partnered with living monuments and memorials, tethered to a supportive community. This is another opportunity for us to share the aloha.