Peter T. Young wrote this informative piece on Blaisdell Center’s war memorial history. The original can be seen here.
War Memorial Municipal Auditorium
“Dedicated to All the Sons and Daughters of Hawai‘i Who Served Their Country in Time of War and in Special Tribute to those Who Gave Their Lives in Order That Freedom and Justice Might Prevail Throughout the World”
Apparently, so said the plaque outside what was initially referred to as the War Memorial Municipal Auditorium; its name was changed a few times.
And, the plaque is now missing – and apparently, so is the memory and original intent of the complex as a War Memorial.
Let’s look back …
In 1955, the Territorial Legislature passed Act 145 authorizing $3-million in bonds for the City and County to construct a War Memorial Municipal Auditorium. Then Congress stepped in to approve the State’s bond proposal.
By then, the idea was for the auditorium to honor those from Hawai‘i who served and sacrificed in WWII and Korea.
The house bill (HB 900) noted, “a municipal auditorium in the City and County of Honolulu would be a proper and fitting memorial to the said veterans (of WWII and Korea) and further would enhance the general welfare of the people of the city of Honolulu.”
Petitions and Bills were discussed seeking authorization for the “board of supervisors of the city and county of Honolulu to issue bonds in the sum of $3 million …”
“… for the purpose of land acquisition, plans, construction, equipping, and furnishing a war memorial municipal auditorium in the city and county of Honolulu.” Congressional Record, Volume 101, page 1143, June 9, 1955)
“HB 7755. A bill to enable the Legislature of the Territory of Hawaii to authorize the city and county of Honolulu, a municipal corporation, to Issue general obligation bonds; to the Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs.” (Congressional Record, Volume 101, page 807, July 30, 1955)
“404. Also, petition of the city and county clerk. Honolulu, T. H., requesting the enactment of legislation appropriating $3-million for land acquisition, plans, construction, equipping, and furnishing war memorial municipal auditorium in the city and county of Honolulu; to the Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs.” (Congressional Record, Volume 102, page 32, January 5, 1956)
Finally, on July 11, 1956, the Senate and House of Representatives of the US Congress enacted Public Law 694 and approving the bond in the Territory’s Act 145, giving the City and County of Honolulu the authority to move forward. The site was the former ‘Old Plantation’ of the Ward Estate.
Initial legislation referred to the facility as the War Memorial Municipal Auditorium; on September 24, 1963, the City Council adopted a resolution naming the complex the ‘Honolulu International Center; then, on January 14, 1976, the City Council renamed the center as the ‘Neal S Blaisdell Memorial Center.’
Finally, on September 12, 1964 the Center was dedicated by Mayor Blaisdell; apparently, a memorial plaque noted the dedication of the facility as a war memorial (apparently, with the language noted at the top, here.)
However, over the years, the memorial plaque has been lost and the Neal S Blaisdell Center’s intended purpose as a war memorial has been forgotten.
Through persistence of Tanya Harrison and other volunteers at the Neal S Blaisdell Center War Memorial Project, Honolulu’s war memorial is no longer forgotten.
Recently (March 11, 2015,) the Honolulu City Council adopted Resolution 15-44, stating, “the City is currently considering long-range plans for the redevelopment of the fifty year-old Neal S Blaisdell Center complex …”
“… as such plans are discussed, the public should be reminded of the Neal S. Blaisdell Center’s heritage as a war memorial and its original purpose to honor Hawaii’s fallen heroes”. They sought rededication of the Blaisdell Center as a War Memorial.
The Honolulu City Council also noted, “all of the counties of the State of Hawai‘i honor and remember Hawai‘i’s war dead and war veterans in living memorials …”
“… such as the Waikiki War Memorial Natatorium, Kauai War Memorial Convention Hall, Kauai Veterans Memorial Hospital, Maui’s War Memorial Stadium Complex and Hilo’s Kalākaua Park War Memorial Pond”.
They asked the City administration to rededicate the Blaisdell as a War Memorial and erect new plaques.
The good news is that the rededication ceremony of Blaisdell is scheduled for 5 pm, Tuesday, November 10, 2015, on the Blaisdell Center lawn between the Concert Hall and Ward Avenue.
The City will be unveiling a new replacement memorial plaque during the rededication ceremony. The public is invited. (Lots of information and images are from the Neal S Blaisdell Center War Memorial Project.)
Please see this and many other Hawaii history posts on Peter T. Young's website: Images of Old Hawaii.
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