Last Monday while on Oahu, we visited Pearl Harbor. DH and I had been thirteen years ago, and spent several hours there. This time we did everything, and spent pretty much the whole day. Aside from a small amount of bickering from lack of sleep, the boys had an amazing time. The first thing we did was get tickets for the timed tours of the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial. We arrived around 9:30, and the next available tour was at noon. That gave us time to see some of the other things like the U.S.S. Missouri Battleship and the museums.
The U.S.S. Missouri Battleship was where we went first. A shuttle runs between the main visitors center and Ford Island where the Missouri and the Aviation Museum are. The boys had a great time hearing about the 50 year history of the ship that spanned three wars. One of the stories told by the tour guide, was of a Japanese plane that crashed into the side of it and threw the pilot onto the deck where he was found dead by the military on board, who then followed with a swift sea burial of the pilot. They also enjoyed hearing about the movies that have been filmed on the ship such as Under Siege with Steven Segal.
From there we went back to the main visitors center where we had lunch before visiting the USS Arizona.
Before the tour of the USS Arizona there is a short movie about the events leading up to the war, and the course of the war itself, leading to the surrender of the Japanese. The movie is very moving and shows real film footage of the bombardment and attack on Pearl Harbor. We then boarded a water taxi that took us to the USS Arizona, where you can still see small blooms of black oil rising from it’s depths.
At one end is a wall engraved with the names of those who perished. The atmosphere on the deck is quiet and somber, and several people (I was one of them) became emotional just being on the deck.
I’m glad we didn’t take that tour last, as it would have set a somber mood on the rest of the day.
When we returned from the Arizona, we went to the USS Bowfin, one of the submarines of WWII. One of the things I learned while touring the submarine is that I could never live on one as I’m simply too claustrophobic. For the Bowfin we used a self guided tour with headphones and audio player. One of the things that struck me was the cooks job. All his supplies were kept on the floor below, and he had to go down a ladder through a tiny hole in the floor and bring everything for the meal up through the hole! Whew! Wouldn’t want that job…
Pearl Harbor is a great place to visit to get a little history and insight into WWII. The boys loved it and it was a fantastic day–well worth the trip and the entry fee. It’s an amazing place of remembrance for all those who fought for our country.