One hundred years ago this Saturday, the German high command met, hoping to find a way to defeat the Allies before the U.S. Army could flood the Western Front with fresh American troops.
Let’s just say that didn’t work out too well for the German high command.
Exactly a year later, on Nov. 11, 1918 – 99 years ago this Saturday – the Germans and Allies signed an Armistice. The guns finally fell silent on the Western Front. After more than four years, the horrors of World War I – in which an estimated 15 million to 18 million people died – were essentially over.
Observe the World War I Centennial at the Natatorium on Saturday
All these years later, we in the United States observe Veterans Day each Nov. 11, paying tribute – as well we should – to all those who have served our nation in uniform, both in war and in peace.
But the remembrance of World War I remains central to the occasion, which is called Armistice Day in much of the world. And the so-called Great War is even more central to Veterans Day observances this year, during the centennial of the fighting.
We invite you to the 21st annual Veterans Day ceremony outside the War Memorial Natatorium, at 2815 Kalakaua Ave. in Waikiki. It’s Saturday, Nov. 11, at 11 a.m. – the legendary 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, the time when the Armistice took effect.
The Natatorium is the state’s official memorial to more than 10,000 men and women from Hawaii who served in World War I. So it’s particularly appropriate during the WWI Centennial for this annual service to take place right in the shadow of the Natatorium gates.
Major Speakers, Motorcycles and Music
This year’s keynote speakers are Brig. Gen. Mark W. Gillette, deputy director for strategic planning and policy at U.S. Pacific Command, and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii. She a veteran of two tours of duty in the Middle East and still a major in the Army National Guard.
Motorcycle riders from the John R. Rowe American Legion Post 17 and other bikers will roll in en masse just before the ceremony. (Post 17 has a direct connection to the memorial. John Rowe was the first person from Hawaii killed in World War I.)
The Navy’s U.S. Pacific Fleet Band will perform, as will the Windward Choral Society; bag pipers from Celtic Kula will play as veterans present lei and flowers at a tablet bearing the name of more than 100 Hawaii residents who died in World War I.
The one-hour event is organized this year by American Legion Post 17, with support from the the Post 17 riders, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8616, other veterans groups and the Friends of the Natatorium. The Hawaii World War I Centennial Task Force is a co-sponsor.
You’ll Be Glad You Came
It’s not every year that Veterans Day falls on a weekend, and not every year that the entire family is available. Bring the kids; we invite them to shake a veteran’s hand and thank him or her for serving our country.