A picnic or a paddle? Do it. A family get-together or a round of golf? By all means. That’s part of what holiday weekends are for.
But the Memorial Day holiday has another, more central purpose. One we shouldn’t forget: to remember and thank the men and women who have sacrificed their lives to defend our country.
There have been an estimated 1.3 million such sacrifices, from the time of the American Revolution to our most recent conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Memorial Day Weekend Observance at the Natatorium
You are cordially invited to the 28th annual Memorial Day Weekend Observance at the War Memorial Natatorium in Waikiki. It takes place on Sunday, May 29 – that’s the day before Memorial Day – at 10 a.m.
Join veterans, active duty military personnel and others to recall and honor all our nation’s war dead.
During this centennial commemoration of World War I, pay special tribute to 10,000 from Hawaii who volunteered for service in that war. At least 101 of them made the ultimate sacrifice; all are memorialized at the Natatorium.
Speakers and Ceremony
A featured guest speaker is Rear Adm. Vincent B. Atkins, commandant of the 14th Coast Guard District, responsible for an area of the Pacific nearly three times the size of the continental United States. Atkins is a former director of operations for U.S. Southern Command, chief of the Coast Guard’s Atlantic cutter fleet and captain of the port in Honolulu.
We’ll have greetings from Rep. Mark Takai, D-Hawaii. The First District congressman, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, is also a lieutenant colonel in the Hawaii National Guard. He was deployed to Kuwait in 2009 as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He was scheduled to be our keynote speaker, but has had to remain on the Mainland this weekend for continuation of his cancer treatment. We wish him the very best, and thank him for sending us a message to read to those in attendance.
We’ll also hear from Jill Byus Radke, a member of the board of Friends of the Natatorium and an expert on the history of the War Memorial.
A Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam honor guard and rifle detail will perform a 21-gun salute and sound Taps. The program also includes evocative performances by Hula Hālau Olana and the floral presentations that are traditions at the Natatorium Memorial Day observance. Arrive early to witness dozens of riders representing veterans’ motorcycle clubs rumbling down Kalakaua Avenue and rolling in to the event, arriving shortly before 10 a.m.
Thank a veteran
Scores of veterans will attend, many of them from 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.
Save the date
Open up your appointment book or calendar and block off 10 a.m. on Sunday, May 29 – Sunday of Memorial Day weekend – for the 28th annual Memorial Day observance at the Natatorium, 2815 Kalakaua Ave., Honolulu. The Friends of the Natatorium have sponsored this annual Memorial Day Weekend ceremony since 1989. We’ll see you there! Mahalo.
Ua ha’awi lakou a pau a ha’awi, pau apau kekahi. Hala loa a poina ‘ole. (All gave some; some gave all. Gone but never forgotten.)