The Punchbowl: Another cemetery of note

Martha’s post on cemeteries got me thinking–particularly since a few days before I wrote a post that included one of the cemeteries that made her list. While Arlington National Cemetery is a splashy, must-see cemetery on the east coast, across the Pacific Ocean in Honolulu is another national cemetery that offers a glimpse at major happenings in the world ‘s history.

The National Memorial Cemetery for the Pacific, more commonly known as The Punchbowl, is a cemetery developed for those who died in the Pacific campaigns during WW II. Later, people who died in Korea and Vietnam were buried here. These days those who served in the military who want to be buried in a military cemetery are buried at Hawaii State Veterans Cemetery in Kaneohe, Hawaii, also on Oahu because the Punchbowl is full to capacity. Along with the history lesson found by reading the various signage in the cemetery, another interesting feature its it’s punchbowl shape. The cemetery resides in the dormant volcano, Pouwaina which was aptly named. Pouwaina means consecrated hill or hill of sacrifice.

As a person who wasn’t the best at paying attention in social studies in high school, I found my trip here fascinating. I had a tour guide though who had a personal connection. My great uncle who retired from the army as a Lt. Colonel and stayed in Hawaii after wards since this was his last posting (and frankly, if you were retiring and happened to live on O’ahu, would you leave?) served in WW II, Korea and the Vietnam War. Even without my uncle, you’ll get a sense of the far reaches of the people who are buried here. Thousands of them were never identified.

Here’s a website I found Acres of Honor, that has in depth descriptions of the cemetery, plus photos and movies. There is a link to visiting information as well.