French historian Moulin, whose life was altered by Japanese-American soldiers liberating his home village of Bruyeres, has made it his mission in life to honor Hawaii’s military. This large, colorfully illustrated, softcover book is focused on the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, better known as Punchbowl.
The natural volcanic feature dominates downtown Honolulu, so much so that Kamehameha placed cannons upon it while founding the city in the early 1800s.
The massive flow of casualties created by the Pacific War resulted in burials all over the island. The Hawaii government offered Punchbowl to the military as a consolidated burial site during the war, but Washington didn’t take it up on the offer until the war was over. In 1949 the cemetery was designed and began to receive disinterred remains. The first buried were nearly 800 servicemen killed during the Pearl Harbor attack, many listed simply as "Unknown."
Moulin’s book also covers the subsequent years and provides visitor and tour information about the site, as well as descriptions and maps of the various memorials and structures that dot the quiet expanse.
The structure of the book necessitates a kind of grab-bag approach, which actually makes it easier to find things. "A History of Punchbowl" is recommended for anyone interested in the cemetery’s role in honoring war dead, or as a specific reference in modern Hawaiian history.