Memorial Day at Punchbowl Cemetery

I visited Punchbowl cemetery to attend a funeral.  It was only a few days after Memorial day. As we headed to Punchbowl Memorial Cemetery the driver and I discussed how the children of Hawaii during school would gather and make plumeria leis for all of the graves. No grave was to be left un-draped.

This year, though, was different. The children were out of school already for the summer so that would mean that only volunteers would be left to make the needed 50,000 leis. We wondered if there would still be leis.

IMG_1171Plumeria flowers growing on one of my plumeria trees. I’ve been talking to it quite a bit and it must like my voice as it’s been blooming lots of bouquets  even though this particular tree is in a small pot and barely any soil. (I keep saying I’m going to get soil but alas things keep distracting me)

IMG_1157As we arrived at Punchbowl I could see plumerias but they were still on the tree as you can see. There were flags on every grave but there were no leis that I could tell.


Here you can see Old Glory flying over some more graves and they too had no leis. Since I was not really that familiar with the lei tradition I still felt sad as I looked at the flags waving. But this being Hawaii and has a tradition of beautiful exotic flowers I took a closer look at the graves that had been decorated by loved ones.

IMG_1163Though there was not a plumeria lei here I think that these ginger and anthurium flowers would make any spirit feel lifted. They definitely say Hawaii.IMG_1164But as it happened I did find a plumeria lei that had been placed on a grave. Some loved one mad sure the tradition was carried on, at least for this soldier.

IMG_1159As I looked on and on at the thousands of flags waving in a cemetery that is now so full it can’t take anymore dead, I could only wonder. When will the day come that we will not grieve over the loss of our precious loved ones because man just can’t get along. Please tell me. When will we see those plow sheers.

National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl

Placed by Wreaths Across America

(Please double Click on any of the photos for a closer look)

It took my friend Della who lives in Oregon to send me photos of The National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl Cemetery) to find out about the placement of some twelve hundred and eighty eight Christmas Wreaths on Veterans  graves.

They had been placed on the graves on December 4 but I did not find out until Christmas day. I went today to photograph them in hopes that they would still be there. They were. A bit faded for the sun but still beautiful and touching non the less.

I had been walking throughout the cemetery taking photos when in the distance I heard taps being played. I thought maybe it was a recording that came on with all the displays that were around. Then I saw one of the workers remove his hat and stand at attention. I noticed off on a knoll a fueneral in progress. I was suddenly slammed back to reality.

As beautiful as the wreaths were there would never have been a need for them had it not been for the sacrifice of thousands here buried.

I remember when I was married and my husband telling me how his father worked around the clock in Punchbowl never being able to take time off. They had so many bodies to bury during the bombing of Pearl Harbor that his father said they slept in coffins when ever they had time to catch a few winks.

You are looking at only a little over a thousand bodies where these wreaths are placed. The cemetery spreads out over what seems like miles with the buried Veterans not covered by the wreaths.

Closer up to the Memorial


A Hawaiian arrangement

This path leads off to more graves

More graves past these Wreaths

Looking out towards Honolulu from the top of the Memorial

Close up of the memorial. Inside of the halls are Maps of the different wars

Some of the maps that line one side of the Memroial

The Chapel inside of the Memorial

A Kukui Nut Lei placed up near the alter of the chapel

Art work on gates to Chapel

Chapel Gate

Tag on Wreaths and how to reach the organization that does this each year

As I stopped to look at two closely placed wreaths I noticed that they were the graves of a father who had fought and came home and a son who fought but did not. It was touching and sad. Looking all around me at such beauty and such waste. All the sacrifice, all the tragedy.

The millions of tears shed, the emptyness and loss. Why? Why does man have to be so greedy. Wars are fought over greed. Nothing more. When will we learn. All the beauty and all the wreaths in the world will never cover that over.

But for one moment the beauty of all those red ribbons reflecting can make you forget, can make you grateful that somebody cared.

You can go to this site if you would like to read more about the placing of the wreaths. Wreaths Across America.