HONOLULU — Momilani Loveland still vividly recalls the sights and sounds of her dad preparing each morning for his supervisor position at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard — his lunchbox squeaking as he peered inside to see what was in store for the day, his keys jingling against his workbag, his shoelaces being threaded on his steel-toed boots and coins rustling in his pocket, ready to be spent on his daily can of Coca-Cola.
"The big horn! That's how I knew my dad would be walking out of the gate soon," Loveland reminisced during her speech Friday at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility apprentice graduation.
"But there were times when he would come out with no lunchbox or workbag in hand, which meant he had to work late," she continued. "It was hard growing up as a shipyard kid, but now that I am here I understand why. I see the big picture: My dad took his responsibility as a shipyard worker seriously."
From electricians to pipe fitters, the four-year program yielded 132 new apprentices Friday at the Navy's Bloch Arena.
Loveland was one of two graduation speakers. The former retail store manager said before the ceremony that she hadn't considered following in her father's footsteps until her mother, who still works at the shipyard, encouraged her to take the test.
"I just so happened to pass, and, you know, I just had to make a big career change, so it's been an interesting four years," she said. "I went from Banana Republic office world to sweating, jeans, you know, hair pulled back every single day … but I don't think I would have traded in for anything else. It's been a big experience, and it's something that I plan to make a career out of."
Gov. Neil Abercrombie addressed the group as well, noting that this year marks the 105th anniversary of the founding of the shipyard.
"This is more than just a graduation; this is a continuation of the standard of service that has been represented by those of you who are graduating today over 100 years," Abercrombie said. "The fact that family and friends are here today pays tribute not just to those who are graduating today, but to the legacy that they represent."
Loveland, too, touched on legacy in her speech.
"I reflect upon what my parents have accomplished and what a legacy they have left me to carry on — to keep this shipyard viable and always ‘Fit to Fight,'" she told her peers. "Without dedicated employees, such as all of you and those before us, a historical and monumental legacy would be gone, 105 years of tradition, commitment and excellence — that's a lot to lose. As a community we can't let it slip through our fingers."
U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono said she has been attending the graduation ceremony for years because she believes it is crucial to the Department of Defense and the state.
"I'm glad to be here because they've really gone through rigorous training — this is probably one of the best training programs that we have," Hirono said. "And then they come out of it with good jobs; they can support themselves and their families."
Hirono also said she is pleased that 10 veterans were among the graduates.
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