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Legislation to Honor Nation’s World War I Memorials

November 10, 2017, 3:15 PM HST (Updated November 10, 2017, 10:41 AM) · 3 Comments
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Before the 100th Anniversary of World War I next year, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (Hawai‘i-02) introduced bipartisan legislation to rehabilitate World War I memorials in Hawai‘i and across the country.

H.R. 438, the Honoring World War I Memorial Act of 2017, would authorize $50 million awarded through Veterans Administration grants to eligible entities for the rehabilitation of World War I memorials throughout the United States.

Eligible entities include nonprofit organizations or state or local governments with direct jurisdiction over the rehabilitation of a World War I memorial.

Hawai‘i is home to one eligible World War I memorial at Waikiki Natatorium; 47 other states are also elibible.

In recognition of Veterans Day, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard will deliver the keynote address during the Veterans’ Day Ceremony in commemoration of the 99th Anniversary of the end of World War I at the Waikiki Natatorium on Saturday, Nov. 11.

“More than four million brave men and women, including 10,000 soldiers from the territory of Hawai‘i, bravely served our country during World War I,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. “Nearly a century later, many of the memorials, like the WWI Waikiki Natatorium in Hawai‘i, are deteriorating, decaying, and crumbling due to decades of neglect, and many have been closed to the public for decades. The heroes of World War I fought bravely and sacrificed greatly for our country and deserve places of rest and reflection that honor their service. Passing the Honoring World War I Memorials Act of 2017 to restore our country’s World War I memorials would provide a small measure of our nation’s gratitude to those who served and sacrificed.”

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“Part of honoring our veterans includes maintaining the war memorials that recognize their heroic sacrifices in defense of our country,” said Rep. Colleen Hanabusa. “I thank Congresswoman Gabbard for introducing this legislation to restore World War I memorials for future generations.”

“We applaud Congresswoman Gabbard’s legislation to give our World War I memorials the protection they deserve,” said Stephanie K. Meeks, president and CEO of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “Often neglected, World War I memorials across the country are some of the most unique and functional community resources. As we join the world in reflecting on the centennial of the war, the Honoring World War I Memorials Act helps bring much needed focus on these memorials and ensures the sacrifices of the millions of Americans who served are not forgotten.”

“We are thrilled to have this support for our efforts of commemoration, education, and public outreach,” said Daniel Dayton, executive director of the WWI Centennial Commission. “The American men and women who served in World War I helped to change the entire world. 4.7 million Americans stepped forward to serve in uniform during World War I. Two million of them deployed overseas. 116,516 of them never made it home. No war should be forgotten, and no military member’s service should be forgotten. The lessons of their service need to be honored, and to be learned from.”

“I deeply appreciate our esteemed Congressional Representative Tulsi Gabbard’s commitment and diligent efforts on this admirable and long-needed legislation,” said Michelle Matson, Honolulu community advocate for the preservation, protection, and restoration of treasured historic sites and landscapes. “There is great history in Hawai‘i to honor our veterans who served during World War I. An ancestor, William G. Irwin, was the architect of the Kapiolani Park Trust and upon his death, his residential site was sold to the four counties of the Territory of Hawaii by his family for the purpose of the War Memorial. A substantial boulder with a bronze plaque commemorating the citizens of the Territory of Hawai‘i who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country is situated on this site today, amidst the protected green open space and with Diamond Head, a designated National Natural Landmark and State Historic Monument, as its dynamic backdrop. This site is the park portion of the War Memorial mauka of the seawall, which was conveyed into the Kapiolani Park Trust in 1998 for public protection in perpetuity. Our country’s significant and historical memorials to our freedom are worthy of the utmost respect, protection and restoration.”

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