Sunday, January 25, 2015

The 40th Anniversary Trip, Part II - Pearl Harbor

One of the highlights of our trip to Hawaii, if not THE highlight, was a visit to this most important place in American history, Pearl Harbor.

I don't think that I need to recount WHY this place is so important, nor detail the events of December 7, 1941.  I can tell you that I can think of no other place that we have ever visited where the sense of history so enveloped us.

One striking thing to both of us was Pearl Harbor itself is relatively small, and one can only imagine what it must have been like on that Sunday morning all those years ago.

Your visit to the USS Arizona Memorial begins with a movie that lasts 15-20 minutes and recounts the events of December 7, 1941.  If you can watch that movie and not be moved to tears, then I am not so sure that you are a person that I want to know.  You then board a small Navy launch and are taken to the Arizona Memorial.

This scene at one end of the Memorial is completely overwhelming:

You also learn that those who served on the Arizona and survived (there are nine survivors still alive) have chosen to be cremated and have their ashes interred with their shipmates aboard the sunken ship.

And, of course, the ship is visible below the water and oil continues to leak from the Arizona to this day.

Aside from, perhaps, Arlington National Cemetery, the USS Arizona Memorial is the most solemn place I have ever visited.


Also anchored at Pearl Harbor is the retired Navy battleship, USS Missouri.

For those who may not know, it was on the deck of the Missouri that the formal Surrender  Instrument that ended World War II was signed in September 2, 1945.

The highlight of a tour of the Missouri is to stand on the Surrender Deck where these ceremonies took place.  We had an amazing tour guide that day, and her narrative of the events of that day was an amazing thing to hear.  Spellbinding.

As I said, the sense of history was overwhelming.

The USS Missouri, by the way, continued to serve during the Korean War and was retired by the Navy in 1955.  It was then recommissioned in 1986 - at a cost of over $400 million - and continued to serve the Navy, and it saw its final battle action during the first Gulf War in 1990.   It was decommissioned for good, and moved to Pearl Harbor in 1992.  It is maintained today by a private, non-profit group, the USS Missouri Memorial Association.

No words that I can write, no pictures that I can take, can possibly capture what we felt during our visit to this remarkable place.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing one the most respectful "travel blogs" I have read in a long time. From an old sailor, I salute you!