View from the exterior catwalk around the lower dome of the arena.
Not knowing where to start, I began contacting any entity even remotely related to Blaisdell Center, a strategy akin to throwing stuff up in the air and seeing what sticks. The only thing I seemed to accomplish was perfecting the art of being a subtle pain in the rear. It didn’t help that I was doing this from nearly 3,000 miles away. I needed to find someone to introduce me to the right people.
By 2014, I was immensely frustrated and considered dropping the whole thing. It was then that I caught the attention of members of WWII veterans clubs, who introduced me to veterans who agreed to take this under their wing.
If you can’t do it, find someone that can
What plagued my effort was ignorance of protocol: who to contact, how to approach them, and what procedure to follow. With members of the veteran’s community, we approached City officials, who took this on as their own project. They funded, designed, and installed the new memorial plaque and planned and implemented a rededication ceremony. I was amazed at how many had become involved with the effort, and relieved that it was finally out of my hands.
Persistence, patience, a clear objective, and a high tolerance to frustration – these qualities kept me going. But in the end, it was finding the right people that got the ball rolling, and a new war memorial plaque was rededicated at Blaisdell Center on November 10, 2015.
The goal posts are always moving
After the rededication I thought I’d be done with the Blaisdell. But somewhere along the way, this became a kuleana. Blaisdell Center is a “living memorial”, akin to the Waikiki War Memorial Natatorium and Kauai War Memorial Convention Hall, both sacred and secular. It’s hard to image you’re at a sacred place while attending an auto show, so one must be reminded of the memorial nature of such places through its name or by a plaque. Although the Blaisdell Center war memorial has been re-awakened and re-introduced to society, vigilance is needed to educate the public about its memorial heritage and prevent it from being lost again
So what’s next? Work is ongoing to nominate the arena and concert hall to the State and National Register of Historic Places. While touring the facility for the nomination, we visited some areas closed to the public. This included climbing catwalks in the darkened “attic” of the arena, where I felt like I was clinging to a giant steel spider web. I didn’t imagine I’d be doing that when this project started!