On a trip to Oahu scheduled over Memorial Day weekend some years back, my husband and I sidelined the regular tourist haunts in favor of those with historical value. One of the stops on our itinerary was the 116-acre cemetery situated in Pouwaina, an extinct volcano transformed in 1948 to serve as a resting place for soldiers of the American Armed Forces who lost their lives during World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.
On this particular weekend, the Punchbowl National Cemetery of the Pacific had been transformed. Boy Scouts decorated the 34,000 graves, a service project they perform every year at the site. Locals distributed flower leis. Wreaths, ribbons and other memorabilia dotted the landscape.
The view stole my breath away—not just the city of Honolulu sprawling in every direction from the top of the mountain, but the graves within the perimeter of the site. The monument bearing the Statue of Columbia that sits in the center of the cemetery, lists the names of 26,000 servicemen missing in action—people for whom no grave exists.
Walking through the cemetery I could only imagine the history that lay beneath the headstones. Men and women who had given all they had to help protect and preserve our nation’s integrity rested here. At one gravesite, we noticed a package of trinkets. At another, a Snickers bar. Specific memorials left for unforgotten heroes frequented our tour.
On this Memorial Day, let us not forget the price that has been paid for our freedom. God has blessed America. We enjoy a lifestyle that is the envy of much of the world. While you are enjoying your holiday, pause for a minute to remember those who gave their lives that you can celebrate today.