The Weight/Napoleon ohana cares so much about the War Memorial Natatorium, for so many reasons.

— Their ancestor, Sam Kainoa, who died in the service in World War I, is among the 10,000 volunteers from Hawaii honored at the Natatorium.

–Another forebearer, Walter Napoleon, was superintendent at the Tank and captain of Hawaii lifeguards.

–The family’s matriarch, Naomi Weight, daughter of Walter, practically grew up at the Natatorium on the shore of Waikiki, as did so many Oahu residents for generations.

So you’ll see dozens of members of this great ohana at the Natatorium each year for the Memorial Day observance. And you’ll find this family at the center of the fight to preserve, repair and reopen the Natatorium, Hawaii’s official World War I memorial.

Freelance military and war reporter Alex Quade came to Hawaii this past Memorial Day to talk with members of the Weight ohana, and to others involved in the fight for the War Memorial Natatorium. Her video story has just been released online by the Daily Caller.

DSC_0013 Alex’s story captures beautifully what Naomi Weight and her family are all about, and why they fight for their state of Hawaii to do the right thing.

As Naomi’s son, Frank, a director of the Friends of the Natatorium, says: “Memorials are built to keep memories alive. We don’t want to be the first state to ever tear down or demolish a [World War I] memorial.”

Mahalo to the Weight/Napoleon ohana for their dedication to our shared past. And mahalo to Alex Quade for putting their story on video and getting it out to the world.

If you were there on Sunday for the annual Memorial Day Weekend observance at the Natatorium, here’s a second look with lots of photos. If you couldn’t make it, here’s just a hint of what you missed:

Ceremony Recap

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Brig. Gen. Mahoney

–Lead-off speaker Brig. Gen. Christopher J. Mahoney, deputy commander of U.S. Marine Forces Pacific.

He’s a topgun fighter pilot and combat veteran with more than 5,000 hours of flight time logged, including more than 4,000 in F-18s.

His career, his demeanor and his message make you proud to be an American.

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Betsy Merritt

Betsy Merritt, deputy general counsel of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. She spoke with deep conviction of “the importance of preserving the places such as [the Natatorium] that contribute to the memory of those who gave their service — and their lives — in defense of our country.”

“May we never forget them, and may we never forget what they did,” she said of those who have died. “Because what they did made us, as a nation, who we are today.”

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Congresswoman Gabbard

–Keynote speaker Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii. A Hawaii National Guard captain and combat veteran, she spoke movingly of “eating chow together at the mess hall” with friends and fellow soldiers whose memorial services she later had to attend. Needless to say, she had many of those present – and especially her fellow veterans – in tears.

–And the kids. Oh, the kids. Our Young Marine logistical support and the dancers of Hula Halau Olana. Hope for our future; no doubt about it.

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We should all spend time on Memorial Day Weekend meditating on the sacrifice of those who go to war and don’t come back.

There are Many to Thank

Mahalo to all who joined us for the Memorial Day observance at the Natatorium, and to those who could only be there in spirit. Mahalo also to the service members, veterans, performers, and volunteers who made this extraordinary event so special.

By the way, there are many more photos of the Memorial Day observance online. Enjoy!

[A special mahalo to photographer Greg Concilla for a spectacular job — again — documenting our annual event.]

Where will you be on Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend? You’ll be right here, living as a citizen of a free and independent country, with the right to vote and the right to spend the day as you please.

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Where should you be that day? You should be here. You should be remembering, honoring and thanking the men and women who have died in America’s wars to establish, protect and preserve those rights.

Memorial Day at the Natatorium

You are cordially invited to the 27th annual Memorial Day observance at the Waikiki War Memorial Natatorium. It’s at 10 a.m. on Sunday, May 24. (That’s Sunday, the day before the Monday holiday.)

Why do return year after year for this solemn, poignant, but also joyous and beautiful ceremony? DSC_0196

We come on that day because, from the American Revolution down to Iraq and Afghanistan, an estimated 1.3 million American men and women have died for their country – and for us.

We come to that place because it is the official state memorial to 101 from Hawaii who died in World War I, and to more than 10,000 from the then-territory who volunteered for service in that conflict.

Congresswoman Gabbard to keynote

The keynote speaker this year will be Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii. The 2nd District congresswoman is also a captain in the Hawai’i National Guard’s 29th Brigade Combat Team and a veteran of two combat deployments. She is one of the first two woman combat veterans to serve in Congress.

Imua i ka Ho’omana’o (“Forward in the Spirit of Remembrance”)

DSC_0042 Also speaking will be Betsy Merritt, Washington-based deputy general counsel and director of legal advocacy at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The trust has listed the Waikiki War Memorial Natatorium as a National Treasure; Merritt has visited Honolulu several times to work with us for preservation and reopening of the Natatorium.

The program also includes the military ceremonies, evocative hula performances, floral presentations and other elements that are traditions at the Natatorium Memorial Day observance.

Thank a veteran

DSC_0037 We will be joined by scores of veterans, many of them from among our friends at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8616 and American Legion Post 17. You and your children can thank them in person for the sacrifices they and their fallen comrades have made on our behalf.

Lock it in right now

DSC_0040 Open up your appointment book or calendar this minute. Block off 10 a.m. on Sunday, May 24 – Sunday of Memorial Day weekend – for the 27th annual Memorial Day observance at the Natatorium, 2815 Kalakaua Ave., Honolulu.

We’ll see you there! Mahalo. And Imua i ka Ho’omana’o.

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