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Remembering sevicemembers' sacrifice with a memorial

By Paul Drewes
Published On: May 27 2013 07:06:39 AM HST
Updated On: May 27 2013 07:06:45 AM HST

Memorial Day ceremonies began this holiday weekend, but in Waikiki, there were also calls to keep a piece of Hawaii history.

HONOLULU -

Memorial Day ceremonies began this holiday weekend to remember the men and women who have died while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.

At this year's ceremony in Waikiki Sunday, there were also calls to keep an important memorial.

In front of the Waikiki War Memorial Natatorium, a service was held to honor those who died in service to the United States.

"Freedom is not free. Our freedom was subsidized by their sacrifice," said U.S. Senator Brian Shatz.

The sacrifice of island residents who died for the U.S. during World War I was also remembered.

"Private John Rowe was the first of Hawaii's sons to give his life in that war," said his grandnephew ( Ret.) LTC US Army Kenrock Higa.

For the fallen, there were military honors along with special hula performances. As residents were urged to remember service member's ultimate sacrifice, they also rallied to save the decrepit War Memorial Natatorium, which was built to honor the men who died decades ago.

"Real leaders back in the 1920s were able to appropriate funds, they made it happen because they were respectful. To hear today's lawmakers say they can't fix it because they don't have the money, it's a mockery," said Higa.

Teenagers from Roosevelt High School, who have never even been in the Natatorium, spoke out during the service because they want to save the aging structure as a sign of respect.

"We realized it was for our veterans. It was dedicated to them and to demolish it would be so disrespectful," said Tava'e Sina Sofa, a junior at Roosevelt High School.

Some fear without memorials like the Natatorium, many will forget the sacrifices from wars long ago.

"As time goes by and people become displaced from a conflict, they lose interest or value of such.  If we just reduce the memorial to just a plaque in the middle of the park, it will turn into a place where people drop their BBQ droppings -- they won't even look at the plaque and what it signifies," said Higa.

Last month the governor announced his decision to save the arches of the War Memorial but demolish the crumbling Natatorium and replace it with a new beach.

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