ANZAC Day 2006 pays tribute to fallen heroes
By Sgt. Ryan O'Hare
| | April 25, 2006
U.S. MARINE CORPS FORCES, PACIFIC, CAMP H. M. SMITH, Hawaii --
As the morning sun shined above the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, also known as the Punchbowl, it gradually warmed the ten marble ‘Courts of the Missing,’ the memorial dedicated to the 18,094 fallen American war heroes laid to rest whose bodies have never been recovered. The brave men and women buried here sacrificed their lives, many alongside our nation’s allies, in the fight for freedom and a better quality of existence for their fellow man. Although every day at the Punchbowl crater is unique and emotional to the thousands of veterans and visitors who journey here to pay their respects, this special day paid respect to two of Americas allies, Australia and New Zealand.
The 91st annual Australia New Zealand Army Corps Day took place on the steps of the Honolulu Memorial April 25. The annual ceremony occurs on the anniversary of the first military conflict, the battle of Gallipoli, fought by the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, which was formed in 1915.
“This is one of the most important days in Australian history,” said John Quinn, Consul General for Australia here in Hawaii. “It’s a very unique and special day for us, and the setting of the Punchbowl is very significant one.”
Punchbowl, which in Hawaiian is named “Pu’owaina,” meaning ‘hill of sacrifice,’ is the burial ground of 46,858 U.S. service members and their families.
With the assistance of the U.S. Marine Corps Force, Pacific, ANZAC Day has been celebrated at the Punchbowl annually since 1973. This ceremony, which was first commemorated in 1916, became a national day of remembrance in Australia during the 1920’s, and continues to be celebrated throughout the world.
“I have a deep appreciation for the Marines who are participating in the ceremony today,” said Quinn. “I hope they are inspired by this special day, and realize that Australians share the same core values as the Marine Corps.”
As the ceremony began, the MARFORPAC Honor Guard marched up the hallowed steps and presented the Australian, New Zealand and American colors under the watchful eye of “Colombia,” the 30-foot female statue, which is perched high above the memorial and watches closely over the heroes laid to rest here.
“It is really a memorable experience,” said Maj. Andrew Lowe, an Australian exchange officer stationed at Camp Smith. “I knew the Marines were tasked with supporting the ceremony, but I had no idea of just how impressive it would actually look. To be at the Punchbowl, in the presence of the fallen from other nations, really made this the perfect location for the ceremony.”
With the sounds of a bugler in the foreground, special guests, including the Hawaii State Lt. Governor James ‘Duke’ Aiona, Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hanneman, and local military commanders, laid 33 wreathes in remembrance of the ANZAC’s, whose sacrifice and valor shaped their countries history forever.
“I felt very privileged to be a part of today’s ceremony,” said Hanneman, who was a Fulbright Scholar at Victoria University in New Zealand. “I was very proud to do my part and pay tribute to those who gave their lives on behalf of Australia and New Zealand. This is the perfect setting and a great opportunity to reflect on all of our heroes.”
As ANZAC Day 2006 drew to a close, the sounds of a artillery saluting battery echoed throughout the crater and signified the end of this somber observance.
“I thought in honor of the war dead from Australia and New Zealand, that the ceremony was executed perfectly,” said Lt. Gen. John F. Goodman, commanding general of MARFORPAC. “But most importantly, I thought it was an extraordinary honor to be asked to come out and support another country in their remembrance.”