More than 10,000 kama’aina from the Territory of Hawai’i volunteered for service in World War I.
It was “The Great War.” It was what people assumed would be “the war to end all wars.”
It was bloody and vicious. It was fought — in the trenches, at sea and even in the air — on a scale and with weapons that mankind had never before witnessed or imagined.
And in the end, of course, it did not “end all wars.”
We cannot allow the undoing of humanity’s hopes for enduring peace undercut the poignancy of the ultimate sacrifice made by more than 100 of those volunteers from Hawaii who never returned home.
In recognition of their valor, honor and sacrifice, Hawai’i in 1927 opened our War Memorial Natatorium. It is a “living” war memorial, not a marble monolith or an allegorical bronze figure. It is a place for people to be together and enjoy the freedoms that the warriors purchased with their youth and with their lives.
They fought, after all — and too many of them had died — for what they hoped would be a better world for their children and their children’s children.
The Descendants Project is designed, generations and nearly a century later, to bring those children’s children to a deeper understanding of their personal connections to the sacrifices their forebears made on their behalf. It is designed to bring all of us to a better appreciation of our collective debt to the men and women who volunteered to serve for us.
We’re looking to identify the descendants of World War I volunteers from Hawai’i, to learn their stories and the stories of their ancestors, and to share those stories with everyone.
If you are descended — directly or collaterally — from a World War I volunteer, think you may be, or just want to learn more, visit the Descendants Project website.