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Punchbowl National Cemetery

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Punchbowl National Cemetery, Honolulu Hawaii

National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific more commonly referred to as Punchbowl National Cemetery is located in the punchbowl crater on Oahu, Hawaii. It serves as a memorial to honor the servicemen and women who gave their lives. In February 1948 Congress gave approval, and the cemetery was dedicated on September 2, 1949, since then approximately 53,000 veterans and dependents from WWI, WWII, Korean, and Vietnam have been interred.

The cemetery now almost exclusively accepts cremated remains for above ground placement in columbaria. Punchbowl Cemetery was the first cemetery to install Bicentennial Medal of Honor headstones, the medal insignia was defined in gold leaf in May of 1976, a total of 23 were placed on gravestones of medal recipients, of which all but one was awarded posthumously. There is also a “Memorial Walk” located on the grounds of Punchbowl cemetery that is lined with various memorials from many different groups and organizations that honor veterans. In 2012 there were 60 boulders, with bronze plaques, along the “Memorial Walk”. Many additional memorials can be found around the cemetery most of which commemorating servicemen of the 20th century wars, including the attack on Pearl Harbor.

The Honolulu Memorial was erected in 1964, by the American Battle Monuments Commission. The memorial was “to honor the sacrifices and achievements of American Armed Forces in the Pacific during World War II and the Korean War.” It was later expanded to include the Vietnam war. The names of the 28,788 military personnel who are still missing in action or were lost at sea or buried at sea are listed on slabs of marble in ten “Courts of Missing” which flank the grand staircase of the memorial. The stone at the bottom was dedicated with the following saying “In these gardens are recorded the names of Americans who gave their lives in the service of their country and whose earthly resting place is known only to god.”

Near the top of the staircase is a statue of Lady Columbia, who is also known as Lady Liberty, or Justice. She stands on the bow of a ship holding a laurel branch, and is said to represent all grieving mothers. The inscription below the statue is taken from Abraham Lincolns letter to Mrs. Bixby and reads “The Solemn Pride that must be yours, to have laid so great a sacrifice upon the alter of freedom.” This statue is featured in the opening sequence of the Hawaii 5-O series in 1970 and in its 2010 remake. The newer series has also filmed several times at the cemetery, the lead characters father is supposed to be buried near the statue.


Oahu Tours to the Punchbowl National Cemetery:

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