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An unusual memorial in Hawaii honors those who gave their lives for their country. It is unusual both in its shape and in the names inscribed upon it.
The memorial is located at a busy intersection of two highways that lead to Kailua and Kaneohe from Honolulu. It faces a side road, so the plaque is not visible from the highway. I have often seen it from the bus stop and wondered what it was: it looks like a giant coconut. On the day that it was wearing a giant lei, I decided it was time to find out.
On the upper portion of the memorial is a plaque that looks like it was the original monument. It says “In Memoriam: To the Men of this Community Killed in Action During World War II.” Below is a list of names, hometowns and locations where killed. The towns are on the windward side of Oahu, predominately Kailua and Kaneohe. The names listed look to be a mix of Asian, Anglo and Hawaiian. Some died in France, many in Italy.
Below, a newer plaque adds names, many of these died in Korea. Some are listed only with their service; “Navy” and birth-death dates. What did not change was the mix of family names. When Hawaii sends sons and daughters to war, they come from the racial and cultural mix that inhabits these islands.
If anyone knows more about the history of this monument, I’d love to hear it. Someone obviously still tends to it, as the lei appeared on November 11, Veteran’s Day.