National Memorial Cemetery – Pacific at Punchbowl Crater

High above the busy beauty of Honolulu and Waikiki Beach, on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, sits the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, at the “Punchbowl” Crater.  The now-extinct Puowaina Crater, by best accounts, was formed 75,000 – 100,000 years ago, during a period of secondary volcanic activity.  In the early 19th century the crater served as a critical stronghold of the Oahu natives, unsuccessfully defending the island from the invading forces of King Kamehameha the Great (1756-1819).  Puowaina (Crater), commonly translated as ‘Consecrated Hill’ or  ‘Hill of Sacrifice’, is known to have been an altar of human sacrifices to the gods, by the early Hawaiians.

The National Memorial Cemetery occupies approximately 112 acres of lush, beautifully manicured grounds within the rim of the crater, overlooking downtown Honolulu.  The U.S. Congress, in 1940, appropriated $50,000.00 for a small cemetery in the Honolulu area and in 1943, the Governor of Hawaii offered Punchbowl as a site for its location.  The funding however proved insufficient and the project was delayed until the end of World War II.  Ground was broken in early 1948, with the first interment made on January 4, 1949.  Punchbowl Cemetery was opened to the public on July 19, 1949, with the services of one unknown service person, two Marines, an Army Lieutenant, and a civilian, Ernie Pyle, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist killed in 1945 by a Japanese sniper near Okinawa.

The most prominent structure at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific is the Honolulu Memorial.  Dedicated in 1964 by the American Battle Monuments Commission, it initially honored the sacrifices and achievements of American Forces in the Pacific Theater during World War II and the Korean War.  In 1980 the monument was expanded to include the Viet Nam War.  The central structure of the Honolulu Memorial is the statue of “Lady Columbia” (the representative of grieving mothers), which is flanked by a hallway with maps depicting notable military battles of the region.  The inscription below the statue is a quote taken from Abraham Lincoln’s letter to Mrs. Bixby (see image caption).   The monument also includes a small but picturesque chapel.

Today, Punchbowl Cemetery is the final resting place for approximately 45,000 men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country, including 13,000 service persons and civilians from World War II.  It is also the site of the annual Easter Sunrise service, Honolulu’s largest ecumenical event.

For additional information visit:  http://www.cem.va.gov/cems/nchp/nmcp.asp

National Memorial Cemetery - Pacific

National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific – Honolulu Memorial

Chinese banyan trees line the lane to the Memorial...

Chinese banyan trees line the lane to the Memorial

National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific - Monument

Honolulu Memorial

"The solemn pride that must be yours, to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of Freedom" – quotation from Abraham Lincoln's Letter to Mrs. Bixby

Lady Columbia with inscription of quotation from Abraham Lincoln’s Letter to Mrs. Bixby

 THE SOLEMN PRIDE THAT MUST BE YOURS TO HAVE LAID SO COSTLY A SACRIFICE UPON THE ALTAR OF FREEDOM

The quote inscribed on the statue reads:  “THE SOLEMN PRIDE THAT MUST BE YOURS TO HAVE LAID SO COSTLY A SACRIFICE UPON THE ALTAR OF FREEDOM”

Rows of interment sites line the floor of Punchbowl Crater...

Rows of interment sites line the floor of Punchbowl Crater

Chinese banyan trees adorn manicured grounds of the Memorial Cemetery...

Chinese banyan trees adorn manicured grounds of the Memorial Cemetery

Grave sites shaded by finely sculpted trees...

Grave sites shaded by finely sculpted trees

National Memorial Cemetery Chapel

Honolulu Memorial Chapel

Glass tile from the Memorial Chapel...

Colored glass tile from the Honolulu Memorial Chapel

Overlooking Honolulu & Waikiki Beach from the rim of Punchbowl Crater...

Overlooking Honolulu & Waikiki Beach from the rim of Punchbowl Crater

Waimea Valley

A highlight of my recent trip to Hawaii was Waimea Valley, a world-class botanical garden and cooperative conservation site.  It is located on the north shore of Oahu island less than an hour from downtown Honolulu.  Consisting of 1,875 acres Waimea Valley is positioned on what has been sacred land for over 700 years of native Hawaiian history.

The botanical garden is situated on 150 acres of the valley and is home to over 5,000 types of tropical and subtropical plants, including native and endangered species.  Over 70 other  historic and religious sites are in Waimea, as well as house areas, agricultural terraces, fish ponds, and a 45 foot waterfall.

The 3/4 mile paved path provides a wealth of stunning photographic opportunities, which we took full advantage of to share with readers of this post.

Heloconia plant (Heloconia collinsiana)

Heloconia plant (Heloconia collinsiana)

Traditional Hawaiian living site...

Traditional Hawaiian living area…

Palms, ferns & banana plants...

Palms, ferns & banana plants…

Ixora

Ixora

Zebra Dove - Native to southeast Asia, introduced to Hawaii in 1922...

Zebra Dove – Native to southeast Asia, introduced to Hawaii in 1922…

Waimea Falls - Waimea means reddish brown water...

Waimea Falls – Waimea means reddish brown water…

Blue Ginger (Dichorisandra thyrsiflora)

Blue Ginger (Dichorisandra thyrsiflora)

Taking a break at the falls...

Taking a break at the falls…

 

SC Confederate Flag Comes Down

After years of intense controversy, the Confederate flag was lowered from the SC state house grounds for the last time on Friday, July 10, 2015.  In an effort to gauge the social atmosphere, and record this historic event, I trekked to Columbia, SC that day.  The state’s decision to remove the flag erupted from the outrage in the wake of the tragic shooting at the historic Emanuel AME Church in Charleston.   Included in the nine parishioners killed was Pastor (and state senator) Clementa Pinckney.

Under the blazing 98 degree Columbia sun, the climate appeared to be part carnival and part memorial.  There were ample supporters and opponents alike of the flag’s removal and its ultimate placement in the state’s Confederate Relic room, a few blocks away.  This pictorial is my attempt to tell the story of the event, a story which includes unrelated protests, television interviews, and street artists among other dynamics.

Last Lowering

Last Lowering

'Unlikely' Supporter?

‘Unlikely’ Supporter?

Sidewalk Artist

Sidewalk Artist

Anti-Flag Protestor

Anti-Flag Protestor

Interview

Interview

Side Protest

Side Protest

We Are One

We Are One

Undying

Undying

In Wait

In Wait

Flag Debate

Flag Debate

Symbol of Hate

Symbol of Hate