As many of you may know, Pearl Harbor is located on Oahu, and we finally made a visit a few weeks ago. We initially thought we’d be able to book tickets within a day or two but found that we actually had to book about month in advance. (Tip for anyone planning to go in the future: Be sure to plan this part well ahead of time!)
We had planned to visit all four sites: the USS Arizona Memorial, the USS Battleship Missouri Memorial, the USS Bowfin Submarine and the Pacific Aviation Museum. However, it was a pretty hot day — and a bit mentally and physically overwhelming — so we only visited the USS Arizona and USS Missouri Memorials, along with the main visitor center.
Prior to boarding the water shuttle to the USS Arizona Memorial, we watched a quick movie on the history of WWII and the attack on Pearl Harbor. The film was only about ten or fifteen minutes long, but it was pretty thorough and highlighted all the key facts pertinent to a visit to Pearl Harbor. Although I was a history major in college, it was quite some time ago, so I’m going to spare you all the lesson here and suggest Google for anyone interested in the details.
Suffice it to say that the memorial, which sits on the water above the sunken remains of the USS Arizona, was incredibly moving. It’s a beautifully done shrine, honoring those who lost their lives on December 7, 1941, and it’s hard to not feel the weight of it all while taking it in.
After returning to the main visitor center from the USS Arizona memorial, we visited a few other outdoor exhibits featuring additional information and then took a short bus ride across the harbor to Ford Island to board the USS Battleship Missouri (aka “The Mighty Mo”). It’s significant as it’s where the Japanese surrendered on September 2, 1945, marking the official end of WWII. It was surreal to stand on the deck and see the very spot where this took place.
We were also able to do a self guided tour below deck, which was fascinating.
(That’s ‘Flat Stanley’ peeking out of the drawer there. My friend’s son Jack had him as a school project and sent his to us. The timing worked out perfectly for our visit to Pearl Harbor, and Stanley was sent back home to Jack with important historical info to share.)
Once we arrived back at the visitor center, we did a quick walk through of a couple of small indoor exhibits highlighting the road to war, the overall timeline and details, and most interestingly, videos of survivors recalling their experiences that day. At this point we had already spent three and a half hours there, and decided to call it for the reasons mentioned above. We were confident we had visited the exhibits of primary significance, and left the Pacific Aviation Museum (which is also on Fort Island) and USS Bowfin Submarine (located at the main visitor center site) for a possible future visit.
Me ka mahalo nui (With much gratitude),