Remarks by Col. (R) Arthur Tulak, Chairman of the Hawaii WWI Centennial Task Force

ON BEHALF OF THE HAWAII WORLD WAR ONE CENTENNIAL TASK FORCE, WELCOME THE FIRST OF THE  MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND AND VETERANS DAY CELEBRATIONS THAT WILL TAKE PLACE HERE AT HAWAII’S ONLY WWI MEMORIAL DURING THE TWO YEAR CENTENNIAL COMMEMORATION PERIOD.   

IT IS AN HONOR AND A PRIVILEGE TO BE STANDING IN FRONT OF THIS BEAUTIFUL MEMORIAL, DEDICATED BY THE PEOPLE OF HAWAII, TO HONOR AND REMEMBER “THE MEN AND WOMEN OF HAWAII WHO SERVED DURING THE GREAT WAR“, AND TO STAND HERE BY THIS STONE, WHICH HONORS THE 101 WHO DIED IN SERVICE TO THEIR NATION AS PART OF THE ALLIED FORCES.  THIS MEMORIAL ALSO REMINDS US OF THE 117,465 AMERICAN CASUALTIES IN THE WAR, AND THE 4 MILLION AMERICANS MOBILIZED ACROSS THE NATION FOR MILITARY SERVICE.

THE HI WWI CTF WAS ORGANIZED AT THE DIRECTION OF GOVERNOR IGE, WHO ON THE 29TH OF APRIL 2015, TASKED THE HI STATE DOD TO STAND-UP A COMMEMORATION ORGANIZATION, NOT LATER THAN VETERANS DAY, 2015. THE MISSION OF THIS ORGANIZATION WOULD BE  TO PLAN, AND LEAD HAWAII’S COMMEMORATION OF THE CENTENNIAL OF THE GREAT WAR.

ON THE 29TH OF  JULY 2015, VOLUNTEERS FROM HAWAII’S VETERAN ORGANIZATIONS, CIVIC ORGANIZATIONS, ACADEMIA, AND THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY ASSEMBLED AS A COMMITTEE TO ESTABLISH THE TASK FORCE TO ACCOMPLISH THAT MISSION.  THE TASK FORCE HAS BEEN FULLY ACTIVE SINCE SEPTEMBER 23, 2015, PLANNING HAWAII’S WWI CENTENNIAL COMMEMORATION.

BY PROCLAMATION, GOVERNOR IGE DECLARED APRIL 2ND 2017  “HAWAII WORLD WAR ONE REMEMBRANCE DAY,”  AND THE OFFICIAL START OF HAWAII’S COMMEMORATION.  IN THAT PROCLAMATION, GOVERNOR IGE, AND LT GOVERNOR SHAN TSATSUI CLOSED WITH A REQUEST  ASKING “THE PEOPLE OF THE ALOHA STATE TO JOIN US IN COMMEMORATING AND HONORING THOSE WHO MADE THE ULTIMATE SACRIFICE IN WORLD WAR I, AND TO RECOGNIZE THE PATRIOTIC AND HUMANITARIAN EFFORTS OF CIVILIANS IN HAWAII.”  HAWAII’S WWI CENTENNIAL COMMEMORATION THEREFORE HONORS AND REMEMBERS BOTH MILITARY AND CIVILIAN CONTRIBUTIONS OF THE PEOPLE OF HAWAII DURING WWI.

OUR STRATEGY FOR HAWAII’S CENTENNIAL COMMEMORATION IS TO PARTNER WITH LOCAL COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS IN PLANNING AND CONDUCTING GRASSROOTS COMMEMORATION EVENTS AND PROGRAMS ACROSS THE STATE.  OUR COMMEMORATION PARTNER ORGANIZATIONS INCLUDE ACTIVE DUTY MILITARY UNITS FROM THE U.S. ARMY STATIONED IN HAWAII, VETERANS ORGANIZATIONS, CIVIC ORGANIZATIONS, ACADEMIA, AND LOCAL BUSINESSES.  THE TASK FORCE WORKS WITH OUR COMMEMORATION PARTNERS TO BRING TO LIFE THE HISTORY OF HAWAII’S EXPERIENCES IN WWI.

WE HAVE NOT YET REACHED ALL THE ORGANIZATIONS AND BUSINESSES WHO WERE IN OPERATION 100 YEARS AGO, WHO MAY WISH TO COMMEMORATE THEIR HISTORICAL CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE WAR EFFORT, AS WELL AS ORGANIZATIONS WHO CAN PROVIDE THE RESOURCES TO FUND, OR THE VOLUNTEERS TO PLAN AND CARRY OUT THOSE COMMEMORATIONS.    AS AN EXAMPLE, TOMORROW, OUR NEWEST COMMEMORATION PARTNER, THE U.S. ARMY GARRISON HAWAII, WILL DEDICATE ITS ANNUAL MEMORIAL DAY CEREMONY ON SCHOFIELD BARRACKS TO HONOR AND REMEMBER AMERICA’S WWI FIGHTING MEN, WHO DIED IN SERVICE TO THE NATION.

IF YOUR ORGANIZATION WISHES TO CONTRIBUTE, WE INVITE YOU TO BECOME AN OFFICIAL HAWAII WWI CENTENNIAL COMMEMORATION PARTNER AND JOIN IN THIS NOBLE EFFORT.

NOT TOO LONG AGO, ON BEHALF OF THE TASK FORCE, I ADDRESSED A CIVIC GROUP ABOUT THE APPROACHING WWI CENTENNIAL COMMEMORATION, AND HEARD THE REMARK, “WWI?  THAT WAS SUCH A LONG TIME AGO!”  TO WHICH I REPLIED, YES, IT WAS ONE HUNDRED YEARS AGO, BUT THE GREAT WAR IS NO LESS WORTHY OF MEMORIALIZING AND REMEMBERING THAN MORE RECENT WARS, OR ANY WAR IN WHICH AMERICANS FOUGHT, STARTING WITH OUR FIRST, THE WAR OF INDEPENDENCE.

THERE ARE NO LIVING VETERANS OF WORLD WAR ONE FOR US TO THANK IN PERSON TODAY.    YES, ONE HUNDRED YEARS IS A LONG TIME, BUT NO SO LONG AGO THAT SOME OF US HERE TODAY CAN TELL THE STORIES OF SERVICE AND SACRIFICES OF OUR FATHERS AND GRANDFATHERS, OF OUR UNCLES AND GREAT UNCLES WHO SERVED IN THE ARMED FORCES IN WWI.  TODAY I HONOR AND REMEMBER THE WWI SERVICE OF MY GRANDFATHER, 2LT HARRISON T. WELLS, WHO SERVED IN THE U.S. ARMY IN THE 72D FIELD ARTILLERY REGIMENT, 11TH “LAFAYETTE” DIVISION, AND HAVING LIVED TO THE AGE OF 91, OBSERVED ME STARTING MY MILITARY CAREER AS AN ARMY ROTC CADET.

MY GRANDFATHER,  AND HIS GENERATION ANSWERED THE CALL TO SERVE THEIR NATION IN TIME OF WAR.  THAT GENERATION SENT FORTH THE AMERICAN EXPEDITIONARY FORCE TO WAGE A CAMPAIGN OF 47 DAYS OF HARD FIGHTING THAT ENDED WITH THE ARMISTICE, THE CESSATION OF HOSTILITIES, ON NOV 11, 1918, LEADING TO THE SIGNING OF A PEACE TREATY AT THE PALACE OF VERSAILLES ON 28 JUNE 1919.

HERE IN HAWAII, IN THE PREPARATION FOR WAR, THE RATE OF VOLUNTEER ENLISTMENT FOR MILITARY SERVICE EXCEEDED THAT OF ANY STATE IN THE NATION. YOU HAVE HEARD THE NUMBERS, OVER 10,000 FROM HAWAII SERVED DURING THE GREAT WAR.  LUCIAS PINKHAM, THE GOVERNOR OF HAWAII WRITING IN HIS ANNUAL REPORT ON JUNE 30, 1915, PRAISED THE PATRIOTISM AND COMMITMENT OF HAWAII’S CITIZENS AS THE NATION  PREPARED FOR THE POSSIBILITY OF WAR.   WRITING IN HIS REPORT TO THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR GOV PINKHAM WROTE THESE WORDS:  “HAWAIIANS CONSTITUTE 70 PERCENT OF OUR MILITIA….RELATIVE TO CITIZEN POPULATION, IF THE UNITED STATES MILITIA WERE EQUALLY ORGANIZED, IT WOULD HAVE AVAILABLE FOR IMMEDIATE ACTION, ONE AND A HALF MILLION WELL DRILLED SOLDIERS ENLISTED FOR THREE YEARS.  HAWAII DESERVES CREDIT FOR PROMPT ACTION”

GOVERNOR PINKHAM ALSO ORGANIZED THE STATE NAVAL MILITIA, WHICH WAS FEDERALIZED FOLLOWING THE DECLARATION OF WAR ON APRIL 6, 1917, AND EMPLOYED WITH THE UNITED STATES NAVY ABOARD THE FIRST CLASS CRUISER, USS ST LOUIS IN THE ATLANTIC THEATER DURING THE WAR.  INDEED,  HAWAII HAS A RICH HISTORY IN THE GREAT WAR THAT IS WAITING FOR THIS GENERATION TO EXAMINE AND APPRECIATE.

OUR MISSION, FOR THE NEXT TWO YEARS, IS

  • TO HONOR AND REMEMBER HAWAII’S MILITARY VETERANS WHO SERVED DURING THE GREAT WAR,
  • TO EDUCATE HAWAII ON THE CONTRIBUTIONS OF OUR CITIZENS TO THE WAR EFFORT AND TO HELP FACILITATE GRASS-ROOTS CENTENNIAL COMMEMORATIONS.

I CALL ON YOU TO JOIN US, AND TO DEMONSTRATE THE SAME LEVEL OF PATRIOTISM AS HAWAII’S CITIZENS IN 1915 AS THEY READILY ENLISTED FOR THE DANGERS OF MILITARY SERVICE TO DEFEND OUR NATION.  LET US ALSO SEEK TO BE UNMATCHED IN THE LEVEL OF DEVOTION AS WE SET OURSELVES TO THIS TASK.

HONOR, REMEMBER, EDUCATE.

ON BEHALF OF THE TASK FORCE, I THANK ALL OF YOU FOR COMING HERE TODAY.  MAHALO.