WHAT and WHEN:
At 11 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 11, join Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8616, other veterans groups, the Friends of the Natatorium and the public for the VFW’s 17th annual Veterans Day Commemoration at the Natatorium.
The armistice ending World War I was signed Nov. 11, 1918, near Compiègne, France, and went into effect later that morning, at what has become legendarily known as the “11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.” Originally commemorated as Armistice Day, the date has become known in the United States as Veterans Day.
In Honolulu’s Kapiolani Park at the Waikiki War Memorial Natatorium. The Natatorium is designated by law as the state’s official memorial to more than 10,000 men and women from Hawai’i who served in World War I, the so-called “War to End All Wars.” Map and directions here.
Active-duty soldiers in 45-pound packs plan a strenuous 11-mile “ruck march” to the site, accompanied at the end by veterans on motorcycles. Once the marchers arrive, the ceremony will begin at 11 a.m. There will be 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 those who served in World War I.
The keynote speaker is Charles “Chuck” Patterson, four-time commander of American Legion Post 17 and alternate national executive committee member for the American Legion Department of Hawaii. He is also property manager for Cloudbreak Communities LLC, the nation’s largest provider of housing for homeless veterans.
Additional speakers include Norbert K. Enos, retired U.S. Army sergeant major, veteran of two combat tours in Vietnam and member of the National Council of the Veterans of Foreign Wars; and Maurice “Mo” Radke, retired command master chief of the Pacific Fleet, U.S. Navy, and president of the Friends of the Natatorium.
The ceremony will conclude with the traditional World War I poem “In Flanders Fields,” read by Michael Soucie, vice commander for District 1, American Legion Department of Hawaii; with the distribution of poppies, the symbol of World War I remembrance, to all present; and with a bugler’s offering of Taps.
You are Invited
Members of the public are invited to attend or, if they cannot be there at 11 a.m., to stop by the Natatorium at any time on Nov. 11 to reflect and leave lei or flowers in honor of Veterans Day and the 10,000 World War I service members from Hawai’i to whom the Natatorium is dedicated.
VFW Post 8616 sponsors this ceremony as part of its mission to “honor the dead.” The Friends of the Natatorium has advocated for more than 25 years for the restoration and reopening of the Waikiki Natatorium. The Friends believe Hawai’i has an obligation to those warriors in whose memory it was dedicated in 1927. Restoration is also the right choice for cultural, historical, financial, environmental and recreational reasons.