SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii -- U.S. Army Garrison Hawaii leaders hosted numerous Hawaii organizations at Soldiers Chapel, here, Aug. 31, to commemorate the birthday of Queen Lili'uokalani (born as Lydia Kamakaeha) on Sept. 2, 1838.
The queen had gifted funds to help construct the chapel at Schofield Barracks and provided items for the altar on March 2, 1913.
The organizations celebrated the history and connection they have with Schofield Barracks through the queen. They recognized the Army's inclusion of "community, churches, religious organizations, royal societies, veterans and active duty members of the armed forces" when they presented a certificate to chaplains and when they presented lei and sang hymns with the ukulele to the queen.
"We in the Army are forever grateful for the favor the queen showed us during her lifetime," said Col. Thomas Barrett, commander, USAG-HI. "Although her life was not easy, including the overthrow of her government and house arrest, she was always gracious and dignified toward the United States, and especially its military and those who serve."
Barrett noted the queen wrote many beautiful hymns, respected the freedom of religion, and funded, in part, the building of the chapel. He said the chapel is as much for Hawaiians as it is for Soldiers.
"How wonderful, how good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity," said Chaplain (Col.) David Shoffner, senior mission command chaplain, U.S. Army Hawaii, quoting a verse in Psalms 133.
Shoffner noted the local Army has gathered, celebrated and remembered the history of the chapel on the queen's actual birthday or an adjacent date for the last five years. He said Queen Lili'uokalani expressed her concern for Soldiers who were stationed so far from home with "grace and kindness and deep faith."
The guest speaker, Ken Hays, an architectural historian with the Directorate of Public Works, USAG-HI, gave participants some background and history of events surrounding the chapel donation.
"This building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places," he said. "It has a remarkable history."
Soldiers Chapel was constructed by combining two separate church buildings, he explained. The architects took a standard Army chapel of the era and enlarged it with elements of the queen's gift. Its bell, from the original post chapel, was donated by the 5th Cavalry Regiment in 1912.
Hays provided a photo display of old Schofield Barracks, from 1915 forward, explaining that Soldiers Chapel was actually located in another area and then moved by Soldiers to its present location in 1925.
The queen travelled from her home at Washington Place to Schofield Barracks for the opening ceremony. The horse and buggy trip -- through sugar and pineapple fields, Hays said, took the queen, who was in her 70s, over two hours.
Today, the chapel looks much like it did 75 years ago. Besides the annual commemoration service remembering the queen's donation, religious services are held within its walls twice a week.