Yes, we will observe Memorial Day and honor America’s war dead in 2020 — just differently

We are unshakable in our commitment always to honor those who died defending America.

This Memorial Day weekend, however, our observance at the War Memorial Natatorium in Waikiki must be a little different.

Out of concern for everyone’s safety – and especially for the health of our senior veterans – the Friends of the Natatorium will not hold its traditional ceremony outside the Natatorium this year.

Instead, we welcome our friends from Celtic Kula Pipe Band of Hawaii, who will play an appropriate tribute to the fallen at the Natatorium at 10 a.m. on Sunday, May 24, the day before the Memorial Day holiday.

Veterans groups may present lei or flowers at the nearby pohaku that bears the Roll of Honor, a list of more than 100 residents of Hawaii who died in service in World War I. Throughout Sunday and on Memorial Day itself – on Monday – individuals and families may also present lei or flowers at the pohaku or at the Natatorium.

The pohaku that bears the Roll of Honor, outside the War Memorial Natatorium in Waikiki.

All presenters should maintain appropriate physical distance, wear masks or face coverings, and observe all recommended public health precautions. In no case should there be any grouping of presenters from different households or any grouping of 10 or more people.

Additionally, veterans who are motorcyclists will ride by the Natatorium on Monday – the official Memorial Day holiday – to salute fallen comrades-in-arms. Riders interested in participating should contact Tom Flach of American Legion Riders of Hawaii Chapter 17.

Alternate Observances of Memorial Day

We need not be physically together to remember together the sacrifices made through American history by the men and women of the armed forces, especially those who have died that we may live free. Families can create their own flag-raisings, recitations of the Pledge of Allegiance or other ceremonies at home.

Anyone anywhere can also participate in online Memorial Day observances, like the one sponsored by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, to be held at 7 a.m. Hawaii time on Monday, May 25. Another will be sponsored by the National D-Day Memorial Foundation at 5 a.m. Hawaii time the same day.

The American Legion also invites you to submit the names of fallen family members you will remember on Memorial Day. The Legion is compiling a list and will share the names on social media throughout Memorial Day weekend.

The Friends of the Natatorium will publish video remarks honoring America’s heroes. We will make those remarks available to you on social media.

Never Forget

While we deeply regret not being able to organize a 32nd annual formal Memorial Day observance at the Natatorium this year, we fully expect to welcome you back to the Natatorium grounds next year, on Sunday, May 30, 2021.

Meanwhile, the Friends and our partners in the veterans community and at Celtic Kula look forward to sharing with you this weekend’s opportunity to pause, remember, honor and reflect.

Throughout American history, from the Revolution through the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, men and women have stepped forward to put everything on the line for their country and their fellow citizens.

We will never forget.

Categories: Friends of the Natatorium, Memorial Day, and Veterans.