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


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.


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.”


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.


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.


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.

The War Memorial Natatorium has stood physically on the shores of Waikiki since 1927.

Now it also stands there virtually, captured — in three dimensions — by a stream of zeroes and ones.

3D Digital Model

Natatorium Front I

California-based nonprofit CyArk, working with our friends at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, has just created a digital model of the Natatorium. They bounced laser light off the walls, bleachers and decks to get millions of highly accurate measurements. With high-tech computer modeling tools, those measurements are being converted into a 3D onscreen model that can be rotated, studied and manipulated. [How do they do it? Details here.]

Thebes and Ankgor Wat?

CyArk will add the digital model to an online collection of global cultural treasures that already includes the Mayan city of Chichén Itzá in Mexico, ancient Thebes in Egypt, Angkor Wat in Cambodia, the Tower of London and America’s own Mount Rushmore.

What Will We Do With It?

The National Trust and Friends of the Natatorium will use the model to help tell the story of the Natatorium. And we’ll use it to show how this great, historic ocean pool can be preserved, rehabilitated and reopened to honor Hawaii’s World War I veterans, as it was built to do. And for all of us ocean swimmers and our ohana to enjoy again.

See a Sample

Here’s a sample image from the project. To the right, you can see color that represents the intensity of the reflected laser light during the scanning process. To the left, a more processed scan with true-to-life color.

Natatorium Transition

The Natatorium like you’ve never seen it before!


You can learn more about the project in a news release from CyArk and the National Trust.

A special “Mahalo!” to teachers from Honolulu’s Mid-Pacific Institute who assisted with the project!

And our deepest thanks, of course, to great friends and allies at CyArk and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

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