By Joseph Bonfiglio
The American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC), along with the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl) and the Honolulu District dedicated two new pavilions at the Honolulu Memorial on Sunday, November 11, 2012.
Following the annual Veterans Day ceremony hosted by Punchbowl, attendees gathered around the new pavilions for a traditional Hawaiian "maile lei" untying ceremony. Attendees at the pavilion dedication included ABMC Secretary Max Cleland, Senator Daniel Akaka, Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, Punchbowl Director Gene Castagnetti, Honolulu District Commander, Lt. Col. Thomas D. Asbery, District Project Managers Jason Tanaka and Tammy Luke, Vietnam veterans and many others responsible for the success of the project.
The Honolulu District managed the $5.2 million construction project for ABMC. The project architect was Fung and Associates, Inc., of Honolulu and the pavilions were built by the Innovative-Mira Joint Venture of Aiea. The pavilions were built in record time of less than six months.
One of the new pavilions commemorates the service and sacrifice of all Americans who served in the Vietnam War. The new pavilions combined with the already existing Vietnam War Courts of the Missing constitute the only federal memorial to veterans of the Vietnam War built solely with federal funds. The completion of the pavilions is timely as the U.S. starts its commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War.
During the Veterans Day ceremony, Secretary Cleland, a Vietnam veteran himself, reflected on a statement by fellow Vietnam veteran Lt. Gen. Hal Moore whose story was told in the movie "We Were Soldiers."
"He (Moore) said that while those who served in Vietnam may not have been part of the greatest generation, they were the greatest of their generation. That is the way I feel," Cleland said. "It's a high honor to dedicate this lasting memorial in their name."
The new Vietnam War pavilion at the Honolulu Memorial houses two mosaic maps. The mosaics show the overall theater of the Vietnam War and the sites of major battles fought during the conflict. The mosaic maps are unique works of art keeping in tradition with the World War II and Korean War maps at the memorial.
The method used to produce the mosaics utilize a variety of cements, pigments, ground glass and sand to replicate the mosaic maps constructed in the 1960's. Each map is ten feet tall and nine and half feet wide and each weighs about 2,000 pounds.
The two pavilions are constructed from travertine stone quarried from Idaho. The second new pavilion houses porcelain panels depicting ABMC commemorative sites in the Pacific and providing an orientation to the Honolulu Memorial.
Located on the grounds of the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, the Honolulu Memorial was dedicated in 1966 to honor the sacrifices and achievements of American armed forces in the Pacific during World War II and the Korean War. It includes the names of 18,096 individuals missing in action or lost at sea from World War II, and the names of 8,200 individuals listed as missing from Korea. The memorial grew in 1980 to include the 2,504 missing of the Vietnam War at the urging of Secretary Cleland, then Administrator of the Veterans Administration.
Construction on the new pavilions started in May 2012 with a target completion date for Veterans Day. During his remarks, Secretary Cleland said "all the folks involved with this project did a heck of a job to get this done on time."
The two Vietnam War mosaic battle maps were constructed by the Armbruster Company of Glenview, Ill. The conceptual art was designed by Mary Jacobs, of Glenelg, Md., who also created the artwork for the original World War II and Korean War mosaics at the memorial.
"As you leave these grounds, I ask you to reflect on the words of poet Archibald MacLeish, who lost a brother in World War I; words now forever inscribed on the Vietnam pavilion: 'We leave you our deaths. Give them their meaning,'" said Secretary Cleland. "These words say it all for me. May we never forget the competence, courage and sacrifice of those who served in the Vietnam War."
The District built the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl in the late 1940s. It opened its doors to the public on July 19, 1949 on the occasion of the burial of Ernie Pyle, the beloved war correspondent, who had been killed during the invasion of Okinawa. The official dedication of the National Cemetery of the Pacific was held on the fourth anniversary of V-J Day, Sept. 2, 1949.
punchbowl vietnam pavilion