Hundreds gathered today at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl to commemorate Veteran’s Day and the official opening of a pavilion documenting battles of the Vietnam War.
“This memorial behind me and surrounding us here is crowned with the names of heroes from three wars whose blood gave us freedom and whose courage moved us to greatness and whose lives we will never forget,” said Max Cleland, a Vietnam War veteran, former U.S. senator and secretary of the American Battlefield Monuments Commission. “Today as you leave these grounds I ask you to reflect on the words of the poet Archibald MacLeish, who lost a brother in World War I, words now forever inscribed on the Vietnam pavilion. The words are these: ‘We leave you our deaths, give them their meaning’ That says it all for me.”
Sen. Daniel K. Akaka, U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, Gov. Neil Abercrombie, and Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle also attended the ceremony, along with the consulate generals of Australia, the Philippines and the Republic of Korea.
The new Vietnam pavilion complements World War II and Korean War battle maps that have been displayed at the cemetery since the 1960s.
The pavilion houses two mosaic maps of the Vietnam War. The maps were designed by Mary Jacobs, a Maryland native who also designed the World War II and Korean War mosaic maps at the memorial.
A second pavilion that will serve as an orientation center for the memorial was also dedicated today.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta was also scheduled visit Punchbowl and lay a wreath today.
He was also expected to meet privately with veterans.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.