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With Respect

World War II veterans Mana Hongo (left) and Warren Iwai look through graves at the National Memorial Cemetary of the Pacific in Honolulu. Many of the gravesites for men killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor are marked "UNKNOWN," a cause of concern for some historians and veterans.

The 'generic' type of marker replaced the Navy markers on the remains of the 647 remains that were mingled and reinterred into 252 plots.
     Two tragedies occurred with the sneak attack of the Japanese on Pearl Harbor on the morning of December 7, 1941.
     One tragedy was the claiming of the lives of more than 2,300 servicemen. The second tragedy unfolded in the treatment of the remains of hundreds of men in the past 60-plus years.
     Lorraine Marks-Haislip, historian and congressional lobbyist for the U.S.S. Arizona, has spent thousands of hours and more than a decade fighting to correct a wrong done to Pearl Harbor's unidentified dead.
The first markers showed respect.
     Burns, blasts and decomposition made it impossible at the time to identify 647 men among the Navy and Marine Corps dead.
     Initially buried by the Navy under white crosses that marked their ship and date of death, the 647 human remains were reinterred in 1949 and mingled in 252 gravesites in the National Memorial Cemetary of the Pacific in Honolulu.
     Many of the gravesites, in the crater of a dormant volcano known as the Punchbowl, were simply marked "UNKNOWN."
     All signs point to Victory. On Christmas Eve, 1943, in the moonlit Hawaiian sky above Honolulu, there appeared a beautiful Lunar Rainbow.
     It's a lucky sign, the old-time Hawaiians agree.
     They recall stories their Fathers and their Grandfathers told them. A rainbow always is a sign of Luck -- and Victory. A Lunar Rainbow is, particularly a good omen. In the old days when the Hawaiians saw a Lunar Rainbow, they would go "auwana" (wandering about)--fishing, looking for food, or attending to business--with the assurance of success that the Rainbow promised.
     Thus it was that when the Lunar Rainbow appeared Christmas Eve, the Hawaiians were quietly happy, more particularly when someone noticed that the Rainbow formed and arch above the Galaxy of Stars that make a large "V".

Copyright 2002-2018 Lorraine Marks-Haislip