Tuesday, April 16, 2013


First and foremost, our hearts and prayers go out to those who lost their lives, and/or had their worlds turned upside down yesterday, by a horrific, senseless, and cowardly act of terrorism committed in the heart of Boston, MA - UNITED States of America.
Above the city of Honolulu, cradled within the rim of an extinct volcano known locally as Punchbowl Crater, sits the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific - 112+ acres of solemn and sacred beauty.
The National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific is one of two hallowed resting places for the recovered remains of World War II dead.  Punchbowl is now filled to capacity with 33,000+ grave sites and, since August 1, 1991, burials have been at the Hawaii State Veterans Cemetery in Kaneohe, on the island of Oahu.
The impressive Honolulu Memorial, situated in the heart of the cemetery, was dedicated on May 1, 1966. It was erected to honor the sacrifices and achievements of American Armed Forces in the Pacific during World War II and the Korean Conflict. In 1980, it was enlarged to include the missing of the Vietnam Conflict. The memorial overlooks the graves area of the cemetery, and consists of a non-sectarian chapel, two map galleries, and a monumental staircase leading from the crater floor to the Court Of Honor and Courts of the Missing.
The tower, which houses the chapel, features a 30-foot female figure, known as Columbia, standing on the symbolized prow of a U.S. Navy vessel. Below the figure is the poignant sympathy expressed by President Abraham Lincoln to Mrs. Bixby, who lost five sons in battle during the Civil War.
Recorded in the ten Courts of the Missing that flank the massive staircase, are the names of 18,094 World War II heroes missing in action (MIA) or lost or buried at sea in the Pacific (excluding the Southwest Pacific and the Palau Islands - the MIA's from these areas are memorialized at the Manila American Cemetery).  There are also 8,195 listed from the Korea Conflict, and 2,489 from the Vietnam Conflict - 28,778 names, in total.  
Map galleries extend from both sides of the tower, and contain beautiful stone inlaid maps and texts recording the achievements of the American Armed Forces in the central and south Pacific regions, as well as Korea.
As we were leaving the cemetery that day, we realized that there was a walking trail leading from behind the Memorial, up a hill.  Parking the car, and talking a slow, reflective walk up the paved path, led us to various small remembrances along the way...
and an incredible overlook of Honolulu from one side, and the humbling cemetery below, from the other.  A large stone memorial at the top commemorates and remembers "United States military personnel captured by the Japanese in 1942, and forced to work on the Siam-Burma “Death Railway” as POW’s.  133 died due to malnutrition, tropical disease, starvation, medical neglect, and other causes".
"This is not a bivouac of the dead.  It is a colony of Heaven, and some part of us all is buried here."
From a small stone memorial aside the walking trail that day..."These words were spoken by the 6th Marine Division Chaplain at our cemetery on Okinawa in 1945"...
Last stop of the Oahu island tour will be the Pearl Harbor Memorial.  Until next week, may you and your loved ones stay safe, be happy, and remember those who have sacrificed all, and continue to give, to this day, for our freedoms.


Createology said...

There is truly too much sadness and lives and limbs given in our world. Blessings to all...

Dorthe said...

Dear Tanya,

Far too many lives are missing due to wars and terrorist actions, soldiers from all over the world, gives their lives ,to try save what they believe in....Will it ever stop!!

Your photoes are beautiful, even telling about war and sadness!

Sweetie, I have 2 cards written and on their way to you :-)
I hope they arrive soon!
Hugs and love,Dorthe

Jackie said...

More devastation in our world, in the words of Timmy Thomas: "Tell me why, Tell me why, why can't we live together?"
More beautiful photos from a land I will probably never see....Thanks for the history lesson!

Silva said...

I wish you do a Travel Tuesday to DC! I would love to show you around!!!

My Garden Diaries said...

What a beautiful and appropriate post for today. The cemetery is just so beautiful and powerful with its moving memorials. We are so blessed to live here in this country and seeing these pictures is an important reminder of that..I bet it really had a huge impact on you...I can only imagine...God Bless you friend...Nicole

Hindustanka said...

Your pictures are good and bring some realization to what sometimes it costs to get freedom. We should remember those who made our future..remember our heroes. But also those who suffered like those in Boston. It was a horrible news, we mourn here.
Have a happy day and be safe as well!

Elisabeth said...

A great tour as always Tanya, and so poignant today.

May Loh said...

A very thoughtful and kind post Tanya. Sad time indeed across different continents...as it is Baroness Thatcher's funeral today in London and it is loss of a great symbol of strength to women everywhere. Just stands to remind us of how precious yet fragile life is. I wish you safety too...have a nice week my dear!
May x

Bead and Needle said...

Aloha Tanya,

Very comprehensive and kind post. The next time you are here please pop in the office and introduce yourself. There are a couple of things I think you would like to see.

Regards, Duane

Duane A. Vachon, PhD
Department of Veterans Affairs
National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific
2177 Puowaina Drive
Honolulu, HI 96813-1729

Deidre said...

It is heartbreaking visiting memorials like this one. Your photos are breathtaking though. The walking track sounds...emotional.