Aloha mai kākou!

AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy --

The U.S. Air Force has granted me and my family many opportunities to travel and experience various cultures, history and foods. At the same time, we have been able to share our own culture, history and foods with others. I’m here to share my Aloha and Mana’o with anyone who will open their heart to understanding.

My name is Wayne Kaupiko Kahalekomo Jr.  Born in Waimea, Kaua’i, Hawai’i, I am the eldest son of Wayne Sr. of Kaua’i, Hawai’i, and Connie of Farmington, New Mexico. My wife, Kanoe, and I have been married for 20 years and we have five children. We have been in the United States Air Force for 18 years and called Aviano “home” for the last four years.

I am “Native Hawaiian” by birth, upbringing, and literal definition. As such, being Hawaiian is a huge part of who I am. However, I am also an American just the same…and I proclaim through my words and deeds to be a representative and ambassador of both.

Growing up on an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, there weren’t a lot of places you could hide, people always knew who you “belonged to” by your family name. Whenever I would do something my grandfather wouldn’t agree with, he repeated this mantra: “Remember who you are and what you stand for!”

I carried this mantra in my heart throughout my life and it, by and large, is the reason I joined the U.S. Air Force.  Over the years, I adopted other mantras to live by, and I’d like to share what “Aloha” means to me.

Aloha is probably the most recognized word in the Hawaiian language throughout the world. It’s used as a word to describe Hawai’i and all things associated with being Hawaiian.  Most commonly, Aloha is used in greetings and farewells: “Hello!” “Goodbye!” and, my favorite, “I love you!”  But Aloha means even more to me.

Looking at the word in parts, “Alo-” is a forward direction, the front, or directed towards; “-ha” is the breath, which is more commonly referred to as “the breath of life.” 

Due to the nature of the word, saying “Aloha” can be directly translated as “the forward projection of your breath.”  That may sound odd to some, but when you say “Aloha” to someone, you are, in sense, sharing your “breath of life” with them…in response, they say “Aloha” to receive your greeting and share their “breath of life” with you. This exchange is one of love, compassion, trust and so much more. This is where the popular saying “Live Aloha” takes on various forms.

To “Live Aloha” is to live with love, compassion, trust, and respect for everyone and everything. I say this because love and respect should be applied to all our surroundings, which includes people and places.  This takes on a deeper meaning of living and sharing the “Spirit of Aloha.” Living in this manner must be unconditional in order to apply the virtue of the phrase. Realizing my own weaknesses and flaws, I strive to “Live Aloha”…even when it challenges my personal biases. Nonetheless, I carry with me a deeply rooted sense of responsibility to honor my heritage and embody the values of who I am…American…Hawaiian…Human!

I dedicate this short share to the memory and legacy of those who have influenced me for good in hopes that we may all strive to love more, trust more, respect all, and “Live Aloha!”

From all of me…to all of you…Aloha!