In 1918, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, an armistice went into effect, ending World War I, known then as the Great War.
After World War II, the annual Nov. 11 commemoration of that moment – until then known as Armistice Day – became Veterans Day. Since then, the holiday has recognized the soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines and coast guards of all U.S. wars.
Still, World War I holds a special place in observances that day. In many places, we observe two consecutive minutes of silence at 11 a.m. local time. The first is for the roughly 20 million people who died in the war; the second is dedicated to those left behind, the wives, children and families left behind but deeply affected by the conflict.
Veterans Day at the Natatorium
In Honolulu, for 16 years, the Veterans of Foreign War Post 8616 has marked the 11th day of the 11th month with simple solemnity at the state’s official World War I Memorial, the War Memorial Natatorium. The Friends of the Natatorium are an enthusiastic co-sponsor.
This year, at 10:45 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 11, motorcycle riders from American Legion Post 17 will silently roll into the Natatorium Park area and drape the gate of the shuttered War Memorial with lei. The VFW invites other bike clubs, especially those with veteran members, to join the respectful roll-in, bring lei, and attend the short service that will start promptly at 11 a.m.The observance itself will include brief remarks honoring the service of soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen and coast guards throughout U.S. history, with special attention to those from Hawai’i and to those who served in World War I. The featured speaker is Norbert K. Enos, retired U.S. Army sergeant major, veteran of two combat tours in Vietnam and adjutant/quartermaster of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Department of Hawaii. The ceremony will conclude with the traditional World War I poem “In Flanders Fields,” read by Michael Soucie, commander of American Legion Post 17; with a presentation of lei at the War Memorial Natatorium by the motorcyclists; and by the distribution of poppies, the symbol of World War I remembrance, to all present.
You are invited
Members of the public are invited to attend and participate. If you cannot be there at 11 a.m., stop by the Natatorium at any time on Nov. 11. Leave lei or flowers, or just spend a few moments in reflection, honoring Veterans Day and the veterans from Hawai’i to whom the memorial is dedicated.
Wherever you are on Sunday, mahalo for offering your respect and appreciation to our nation’s veterans.
For more information, or to let us know that your motorcycle club members will be joining us, contact Post 8616 organizer Fred Wong.
The Waikiki War Memorial Natatorium opened in 1927 as the official memorial to the more than 10,000 men and women from Hawai’i who served in World War I. The Friends of the Natatorium have worked for more than 25 years to preserve, renew and reopen this sacred memorial, which is also a cultural and historic landmark.