Here’s a slideshow of a commemoration Aug. 24 marking the 84th anniversary of the ceremonial opening of one of the state’s cultural and historic icons, the Waikiki War Memorial Natatorium. It was the Nat’s 84th birthday!
Kahu Manu Mook offered the blowing of the Pu and Kahu Bradford Kaiwi Lum performed the Oli for those gathered at the Ewa end of Kaimana Beach, next to the Natatorium.
The Natatorium is the state’s official memorial to more than 10,000 from Hawai’i who volunteered to serve in World War I and to 101 of them who died in the war. It was dedicated Aug. 24, 1927, at the opening of that year’s men’s national swimming championships, held in the new pool. The dedication included music, a speech and tribute to the war dead by territorial Gov. Wallace R. Farrington, and the playing of “Taps.”
The climax of the event was the ceremonial first swim, a 100-meter freestyle exhibition by Duke Kahanamoku, native hero and former Olympic gold medalist. That day was Duke’s 37th birthday!
In his remarks, Gov. Farrington said that the natatorium “would stand not only as a monument to the memory of Hawaii’s heroic dead but also to the present and future youth of the territory.” *
The Friends of the Natatorium, now celebrating its 25th anniversary year, is dedicated to ensuring that Hawai’i stands by that promise Gov. Farrington made 84 years ago to those who died in World War I, to the war’s veterans and to the people of Hawai’i. The Friends are dedicated to the preservation, restoration and reopening of a facility that – far more than just a historic ocean pool – is a sacred war memorial and a critical part of the state’s cultural legacy.
(* From pages 453-454, Hawaii in the World War by Ralph S. Kuykendall and Lorin Tarr Gill, Honolulu: The Historical Commission, 1928.)