Otherwise and colloquially known as Punchbowl Cemetery, the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific is a United States Armed Forces cemetery in Honolulu, Hawaii. Part of the National Register of Historic Places, the cemetery gathers millions of visitors every year, making it one of the most popular tourist attractions in all of Hawaii. It is dedicated to Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard members who lost their lives in their line of duty.
The location of the cemetery wasn’t the fruit of coincidence; it is located on what Hawaiians called “Hill of Sacrifice,” which used to be an altar where they offered human sacrifices to pagan gods and where they installed a battery of two cannons used to salute prominent arrivals and signify noteworthy instances.
Since the site was established in 1949, approximately 53,000 World War I, World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War veterans and their dependents have been interred in these grounds – including the sadly infamous USS Arizona victims during the Pearl Harbor attack. In addition to its vast burial grounds, the cemetery contains a number of small memorials, such as that of Honolulu, commemorating soldiers of 20th-century wars. The memorial is often regarded as the highlight of the cemetery’s visit, because of Lady Columbia’s statue erected at the top of the staircase in the Court of Honor; also known as Lady Liberty or Lady Justice, she is said to represent all grieving mothers.
The National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific is located at 2177 Puowaina Drive in central Honolulu and is open daily from 8am to 5:30pm between September 30 and March 1. It is open from 8am to 6:30pm between March 2 and September 29. On Memorial Day, the cemetery is open from 7am until 7pm.