Trail Length: 3.5 mi.
Terrain: Open, wet ridgeline
Elevation: 1700 ft
Trail Length: 3.5 mi.
|Punchbowl Cemetery Few national cemeteries can compete with the dramatic natural setting of the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. The “Punchbowl” was formed some 75,000 to 100,000 years ago during the Honolulu period of secondary volcanic activity. A crater resulted from the ejection of hot lava through cracks in the old coral reefs which, at the time, extended to the foot of the Koolau Mountain Range.|
During the late 1890s, a committee recommended that the Punchbowl become the site for a new cemetery to accommodate the growing population of Honolulu. The idea was rejected for fear of polluting the water supply and the emotional aversion to creating a city of the dead above a city of the living.
Fifty years later, Congress authorized a small appropriation to establish a national cemetery in Honolulu with two provisions: that the location be acceptable to the War Department, and that the site would be donated rather than purchased. In 1943, the governor of Hawaii offered the Punchbowl for this purpose. The $50,000 appropriation proved insufficient, however, and the project was deferred until after World War II. By 1947, Congress and veteran organizations placed a great deal of pressure on the military to find a permanent burial site in Hawaii for the remains of thousands of World War II servicemen on the island of Guam awaiting permanent burial. Subsequently, the Army again began planning the Punchbowl cemetery; in February 1948 Congress approved funding and construction began.
Prior to the opening of the cemetery for the recently deceased, the remains of soldiers from locations around the Pacific Theater—including Wake Island and Japanese POW camps—were transported to Hawaii for final interment. The first interment was made Jan. 4, 1949. The cemetery opened to the public on July 19, 1949, with services for five war dead: an unknown serviceman, two Marines, an Army lieutenant and one civilian—noted war correspondent Ernie Pyle. Initially, the graves at National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific were marked with white wooden crosses and Stars of David—like the American cemeteries abroad—in preparation for the dedication ceremony on the fourth anniversary of V-J Day. Eventually, over 13,000 soldiers and sailors who died during World War II would be laid to rest in the Punchbowl.
Despite the Army’s extensive efforts to inform the public that the star- and cross-shaped grave markers were only temporary, an outcry arose in 1951 when permanent flat granite markers replaced them. A letter from the Quartermaster General to Senator Paul Douglas in December 1952, explained that while individual markers are inscribed according to the appropriate religious faith:
Crosses do not mark the graves of the dead of our country in other national cemeteries. No cross marks the burial of our revered Unknown Soldier. From Arlington to Golden Gate, from Puerto Rico to Hawaii, the Government’s markers in national cemeteries for all our hero—dead are of the traditional designs…[s]ome are upright and some are flat. None is in the form of a religious emblem.
The National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific was the first such cemetery to install Bicentennial Medal of Honor headstones, the medal insignia being defined in gold leaf. On May 11, 1976, a total of 23 of these were placed on the graves of medal recipients, all but one of whom were killed in action. The Punchbowl has become one of the area’s most popular tourist destinations. More than five million visitors come to the cemetery each year to pay their respects to the dead and to enjoy the panoramic view from the Punchbowl. One of the most breathtaking views of the Island of Oahu can be found while standing at the highest point on the crater’s rim.
In August 2001, about 70 generic unknown markers for the graves of men known to have died during the attack on Pearl Harbor were replaced with markers that included “USS Arizona” after it was determined they perished on this vessel. In addition, new information that identified grave locations of 175 men whose graves were previously marked as unknown resulted in the installation of new markers in October 2002. The National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.
Monuments and Memorials
The National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific contains a memorial pathway that is lined with a variety of memorials that honor America’s veterans from various organizations. As of 2008, there were 56 such memorials throughout the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific—most commemorating soldiers of 20th-century wars, including those killed at Pearl Harbor.
Historical information from U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. http://www.cem.va.gov/cems/nchp/nmcp.asp
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We remember the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor 71 years ago today. History records that 2,390 service members and 49 civilians were killed and the U.S. was dragged into World War II.
Now it is time to remember, contemplate and learn. We were honored to be present at the 70th anniversary commemoration of the infamous attack on Pearl Harbor. For many of the frail Japanese and American veterans gathered here, this was a final milestone for those who survived the battle on Dec. 7, 1941.
With most members in their 90s, the national Pearl Harbor Survivors Association, disbanded on Dec. 31. Consider, if youngest survivor at Pearl Harbor was 16, then hew would 87 now, and most sailors were older.
The National Park Service and Navy Region Hawaii hosted the 70th Anniversary Pearl Harbor Day Commemoration on December 7, 2011 on the back lawn of the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center. The venue looks directly out on the USS Arizona Memorial situated in Pearl Harbor, approximately half a mile away.
The ceremony included military band music, morning colors, a traditional Hawaiian blessing, a rifle salute by members of the armed services, wreath presentations, echo taps, and recognition of the men and women who survived that December 7, 1941 and those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
At 7:55 a.m., the exact moment the Japanese attack began 70 years ago, a moment of silence was observed. A U.S. Navy ship rendered honors to the USS Arizona followed by a “missing man” formation flight over the Memorial.
Pearl Harbor Survivors and World War II Veterans, along with their families and friends from around the nation, joined more than 3,000 distinguished guests and the general public for the annual observance of the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.
The venue looks directly out on the USS Arizona Memorial situated in Pearl Harbor, approximately half a mile away.
Many veterans who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country were laid to rest at Punchbowl Cemetery, National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.
|Of the estimated 60,000 men and women in the military stationed on Oahu on that day, only a few thousand survive today. Many of them are laid to rest at National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, commonly know as Punchbowl.|