Today I want to share one of the most solemn, sacred places I’ve ever experienced, Pearl Harbor Oahu. Before I dive in, let’s talk about a few things that make up Pearl Harbor, as before we went I wasn’t really clear on it. Pearl Harbor is, in fact, a harbor. What you & I think of as “Pearl Harbor” is typically the USS Arizona Memorial, but there is so much more to it. The World War II Valor in the Pacific Monument is actually where the USS Arizona Memorial is located along with museums and other memorial ships. Close by is USS Missouri and Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor, which I will talk about tomorrow. Today, I want to share mainly the USS Arizona Memorial, as well as the museum.
Before we actually arrived in Hawaii, we booked our time to ferry to the USS Arizona. The entire “park” itself is free, but tickets for a spot on the ferry can be booked up to two months ahead of time. To ensure that we could stay on schedule, since we only had one day on Oahu, we booked our ferry time ahead of time. You can walk up for tickets as well, but if you want to book a set time you can go here. Our flight arrived on Oahu about 6:30am, so to ensure ample time we chose 8:45am for our ferry time. We ended up making it to Pearl Harbor about 7:15am (it isn’t far from the airport at all), so we easily changed our ticket time to 7:45am. In the meantime there was still plenty to see and look at. We opted to get a narrated tour which was headphones and a hand held control. You entered the number to the corresponding place you were at on the grounds, and it would tell you more about the events and exhibits, along with real life accounts from survivors themselves. This did cost a small fee, around $7 is I remember correctly, and in both our opinions was very well worth it. So I do definitely recommend booking your ferry time and narrated tour ahead of time. I think what we enjoyed most about the narrated portion was that we were on our own time. We weren’t obligated to a group or tour guide, and could just take as much or as little time as we wished.
The first thing we did after getting our tickets settled was watch a short film about how and why the U.S. became a target for Japan, as well as a bit about December 7, 1941. This was very much worth our time. I learned things I hadn’t known, and it offered real life accounts from survivors. After the film, we boarded our ferry to the USS Arizona Memorial, which is just a short 5 minute ride. I really enjoyed how they worked the ferry system. You weren’t allotted a certain amount of time, you could stay as long as you liked. In theory, you could right the first ferry out, and the last ferry back. I thought it wonderful that you didn’t have to be rushed, as even out on the memorial there was much to see. The USS Arizona Memorial was a very solemn and serene place. Even on the ferry ride over you could see and feel how serene it was. One of the narrations had a survivor of the USS Arizona speak about how he did not wish for the memorial to be a sad place of tears, but a place for serenity. It was very beautiful. I felt it a lovely tribute to those fallen and trapped there, as well as to the survivors.
On the memorial is a wall of names of those who lost their lives on the USS Arizona, as well as benches with the names of survivors who have later passed on and chose to have their remains left with their brother entrapped in the ship. In the middle of the memorial is a hole cut out leading to a box attached to the ship where these men are laid to rest with their shipmates. Truly remarkable and brings me chills even now. Our time at the memorial was just 10 days after Pearl Harbor Day, so there were still flowers from the festivities of that day of remembrance.
I, of course, can’t leave out the ever present oil leak from the ship. It is incredible to think after nearly 75 years the ship is still making its presence known to the sea. Perhaps it’s also the tears of the men entrapped so as we don’t forget them, as if we ever would.
After we took in everything on the memorial, we took a ferry back, and browsed the rest of the World War II Valor in the Pacific Monument. We saw the bell and anchor from the USS Arizona, murals, sailors clothing, maps and miniature ships depicting the attack, a display on Doris Miller who happens to be from where we live, Waco, Texas, and my favorite FDR’s speech given after the attacks, along with so, so much more.
Outside the museum is much to see as well, including Pearl Harbor, the harbor, itself, the USS Bowfin Submarine, torpedoes from the attack, and various monuments. One which left me in awe, a monument with a quote from a survivor inscribed on it speaking about a lunar rainbow that appeared the morning after December 7, 1941 as a sign of hope. And reaching up over that monument in the sky was a rainbow. So incredible chilling.
There is so much more to tell in regards to Pearl Harbor, our visit to the USS Missouri & the Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor. I will share on it tomorrow. Thank you for stopping in.