The National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific is also known as The Punchbowl. As I mentioned in another Honolulu tip I love to research the original Hawaiian names of locations and see their meanings.
The Punchbowl's Hawaiian name was Puowaina. The most common translation of this is "Hill of Sacrifice" The first known use of this area was as an altar where Hawaiians offered human sacrifices to pagan gods and killed violators of the many taboos in Hawaiian culture at that time.
Punchbowl is a volcanic crater formed approximately 75,000 year ago. Today it is the home to the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. I have been to many National Cemeteries and a lot of them are in beautiful dramatic locations. But none of the ones I have visited can compare to the location at Punchbowl. Sitting on a hill side over looking the city of Honolulu the cemetery offers beautiful views of the city and the Pacific.
With Hawaii's historic connection to World War II it seem only fitting to have such a beautiful cemetery and memorial for the military men of the Pacific.
I have been disappointed many times on visits to European cities when I have found famous churches I wanted to see covered in scaffolds for renovations. I have also had this same problem in some large American cities for building I have wanted to see. It was just my luck on the day I visited the memorial at The Punchbowl that there would be a team of men with machinery cleaning the memorial. So I did not get that classic photo I wanted of the monument in the cemetery. The good news is this mean I just have to return to Honolulu again to get that photo.
Theis Famous War Memorial and Cemetery lies in an extinct volcano called POUWAINA and consists of 116 acres (40 hectares). Roughly translated, "Pouwaina" means "Consecrated Hill" or "Hill of Sacrifice." .This cemetery serves as one of the Nation's two honored resting places in the Pacific. The American Military Cemetery at Manila is the othe (see my manila pages) . It is a resting place for the recovered remains of those who gave their lives during World War II. Also the unidentified remains of 800 servicemen who died in Korea. The cemetery was in 1986 also dedicated to the service persons who fought in Vietnam.
There is a huge memorial featuring eight marble courts which contain the names of 26,280 Americans missing in action from World War II and the Korean War. Two additional areas now list the names of 2503 soldiers missing from the Vietnam War. At the top of the long flight of steps sits the monument itself, built in 1966. At the top of the marble staircase stands the statue of a woman, a woman of peace and of liberty towering above you.Extending from each side of this statue are walls etched with maps of the many campaigns of the Pacific, Pearl Harbor, Wake, Coral Sea, Midway, New Guinea and the Solomons, Iwo Jima, the Gilbert Islands, Okinawa as well as Korea. At the center behind the statute is an interdenominational chapel for Christians, Jews and Buddhists alike. This ground is sacred to both the native Hawaiians and to the families of the non-Hawaiians buried here.
Visitor hours are daily, 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m everday
Inscribed on one of the entrance pillars is this poem
From The Bivouac Of The Dead
by Theodore O'Hara
The muffled drums sad roll has beat
The soldier's last tattoo;
No more on life's parade shall meet
That brave and fallen few.
On Fame's eternal camping-ground
Their silent tents are spread,
And Glory guards, with solemn round,
The bivouac of the dead.
The official name of the Punchbowl is the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, where the bodies of more than 30000 soldiers are buried. Many of the soldiers are killed - in the Pacific - during World War II.
There is a memorial featuring eight marble courts containing the names of 26000 Americans missing in action from World War II and the Korean War. Additional smaller courts display the names of 2500 missing in action from the Vietnam War.
This is a beautiful and moving place.
Furthermore there is a beautiful view of Honolulu from the Cemetery.
The impressive PUOWAINA National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl, honors the sacrifices and achievements of the American Armed Forces in the Pacific during World War II and the Korean Conflict.
Punchbowl is an almost perfectly round crater of an extinct volcano. Inside are the bodies of 33,000 men and women whose lives were sacrificed while fighting for the United States.
More than five million visitors pay their respects at Punchbowl every year, making this the most visited site in Hawaii.
Walking tours by the AMerican Legion are available.
Visit between the hours of 8 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. daily.
The Punchbowl is actually the remains of an old volcanic crater that overlooks Honolulu. It holds a large cemetery that honors many of those who served in the United States military. Many of the people buried here were killed in the December 7 attack on Pearl Harbor. Others have served in various conflicts since that time. There is a large memorial in the crater and within it, you will find several battle maps featuring campaigns in the Pacific. Along the edge of the crater are excellent views into the city and other parts of the island. There is ample parking in the cemetery, however I walked from downtown Honolulu. It was quite a walk from the capitol building to get there, but it can be done.
For those who were young enough to watch Hawaii 5-O on TV, you should remember this landmark of Honolulu in the beginning of the show when they play the theme music.
Punchbowl is free; visit between the hours of 8 a.m.-6:30 p.m. daily.
This is a very impressive national cemetery. The main monument contains maps of major World War II battles in the Pacific done in beautiful mosaics.
There is a lookout over the edge of the crater that gives a great view of Honolulu and the ocean.
Ernie Pyle, the journalist, is buried here on the left side of the main boulevard along with Ellison Onizuka who died on the Challenger.
Some great views of the city can be had from the Punchbowl war cemetery, as well as being an interesting historical statement in its own right. You can follow the progress of the Pacific War on large murals, and wander round the immaculately manicured lawns
National Memorial Cemetary of the Pacific - the 'Punchbowl.' Great views of Honolulu and a moving reminder of freedom's cost.
Panorama of the USA's Pacific Wars, Graves of Ernie Pyle and the Hawaiian astronaut who died on the Challenger. Take the time to talk to any of the 'Club 100' (Japanese-American vets) who hang out in the visitor's center. They have amazing stories.
The is the burial grounds for over 35,000 victims of the three American wars in Asia and the Pacific. This wars included the World War II, Korean and Vietnam wars. Be sure to take in the fantastic view of Honolulu from the entrance of the Cemetery.