Published online today — the day before Veterans Day, of all days! — is MidWeek columnist Bob Jones’ call for demolition of the Waikiki Natatorium War Memorial.
Naturally, we object — not only to the sentiment, but also to the column’s repetition of baseless assertions often heard from the small, but vocal, anti-Natatorium crowd.
And we object, especially, to the choice of the eve of a holiday honoring veterans to call for the destruction of a state memorial to Hawai’i veterans and war dead.
Peter Apo, president of the Friends of the Natatorium and newly elected trustee of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, has sent a letter to the editor of MidWeek to set the record straight. The text is below.
Here’s Peter Apo’s letter:
To the Editor:
Give Bob Jones credit for efficiency. In just 170 words or so (“Time to Tear Down the Natatorium,” Nov. 10), he repeats just about every mistaken claim in the book about the Waikiki War Memorial Natatorium.
To be clear: Demolishing the Natatorium and building a new beach would cost more than preserving, renewing and reopening the current memorial. It would cost more, that is, if (and it’s a very big if) a demolition proposal ever made it past the arduous gauntlet of environmental law and regulatory obstacles in its way. That’s just to demolish. Then there’s constructing a system of groins that will look like a small boat harbor enclosure in order to protect San Souci (Kaimana Beach) from being washed away.
So much for the financial argument. The Natatorium is worth saving for so many other reasons: Its cultural significance to our citizens. The need to preserve the unique treasures of our historic Waikiki. The wonderful recreational opportunities it offers as an alternative to yet another short stretch of beach.
The Waikiki Natatorium is Hawai’i’s official state memorial to the 101 soldiers and sailors from here who died as well as the more than 10,000 who fought in the most horrible of all wars. Our obligation to them, expressed in this living memorial — is a debt of honor.
For the facts, see tinyurl.com/wwm-nat.