Some soldiers on Natatorium memorial are listed under Great Britain. Photo by George F. Lee, Star-Bulletin
The Natatorium was built during a national craze for natural-water swimming during the 1920s, and when it was dedicated in 1927, it also became a memorial to Hawaii citizens lost in World War I.
Even though the Great War largely occurred in Europe, there was plenty of action here in the Pacific. The Japanese invented aerial bombing against the Germans in China, the Germans shot up Tahiti and sank civilian shipping in the South Pacific, and the first American shots of the war were across the bow of Kormoran, a German warship at Guam (and now on the bottom of Apra harbor).
In the Territory of Hawaii, some 10,000 citizens signed up to take a crack at Kaiser Bill, one of the largest percentages in the country. More than a third were Japanese residents. Of these, 101 died, and these are the ones memorialized on the plaque.
Because the U.S. didn't enter the war until 1917, some of these citizens enlisted with other Allied powers to get into the fight. Songwriter Alex Anderson, for example, aviated with the British Royal Flying Corps, while Lanikai resident Carl Dolan flew with the French Lafayette Escadrille. Of the 101 names on the plaque, 79 died serving with American forces, and the other 22 with Commonwealth troops.
But they were all citizens of Hawaii. This sacrifice should be remembered if and when the Natatorium is restored.