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On Sunday, a ceremony was held in front of the Waikiki War Memorial Natatorium. It has been celebrated every year on the Sunday before Memorial Day.
Many who attended the ceremony couldn’t help but think about the future of this historic memorial.
Memorial Day is a time of remembrance that salutes military heroes who died serving our country such as Kenrock Higa’s grand-uncle, who was one of the speakers during Sunday’s ceremony.
“Hawaii’s first fallen warrior in a foreign war WWI was my grand-uncle,” Kenrock Higa said.
The Natatorium was built-in 1927 as a memorial to Kenrock’s grand-uncle Private John Rupert Rowe and the thousands of other soldiers from Hawaii who served in WWI.
“While I personally did not have the opportunity to know those memorialized here, their sacrifice still resonates in my heart. Their memories live with all their descendants who like myself can keep their memory alive for generations to come,” Higa said.
He speaks with a heavy heart as he thinks not only about the loss of his grand-uncle but also about the impending loss of this monument.
The City announced last month that it will demolish the Natatorium’s saltwater swimming pool, and will replace it with a beach, showers and a new parking lot. It’s a plan expected to cost the city $18.5 million whereas fixing the crumbling monument would cost almost four times as much.
“I also find myself disheartened to hear disengaged politicians and business people talk about repairs being to expensive to absorb and the Natatorium should be removed all together as an antiquated eyesore to expand the Waikiki waterfront for the enjoyment of Hawaii’s visitors,” Higa said.
While the thought of that looms today, this holiday weekend is about remembering and honoring those who’ve paid the ultimate price while defending our country.