The Living Memorial

Neal S. Blaisdell Center is a type of war memorial known as a “living memorial”.

Living memorials are utilitarian facilities such as hospitals, auditoriums, roads, swimming pools, and libraries, typically marked with a plaque to indicate their memorial status. They are meant to serve the needs of society, while reminding us that without the sacrifices of those who serve, we would not have the freedom to build and enjoy such facilities.

These types of memorials came about after WWI, when veterans asked for “living memorials”, public facilities that served society while memorializing the dead, not the traditional stone or obelisk, whose only function was to be a memorial. The tradition was again popular after WWII.

Plaque at Kauai War Memorial Convention Hall
Plaque at Kauai War Memorial Convention Hall

In Hawaii, you can find the Waikiki War Memorial Natatorium, Kauai War Memorial Convention Hall, Kauai Veterans Memorial Hospital, Maui’s War Memorial Stadium, and Hilo’s Kalakaua Park War Memorial Pond.

Blaisdell Center is essentially Honolulu’s War Memorial Auditorium. It was originally intended to be a WWII/Korean War memorial, but eventually was dedicated to all of Hawaii’s warriors.

9-11 Memorial by Honolulu Hale
9-11 Memorial by Honolulu Hale

The tradition of the living memorial is not as prevalent today, and newer memorials tend to be monuments, such as the 9/11 memorial by Honolulu Hale. But this tradition still lives on to a small degree….all 370 miles of Oregon’s I-84 freeway was dedicated as the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Highway on Memorial Day 2014.

Vietnam Veterans Memorial Highway in Oregon
Vietnam Veterans Memorial Highway in Oregon

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