On our recent trip to Oahu we were able to see the USS Arizona Memorial and pay respect to those lives lost on Pearl Harbor Dec 7th, 1941. It was so surreal and an experience that I will never forget. I am glad we were able to make it, especially after it had to be rescheduled due to Obama and the Prime Minister touring the memorial the same day as we were scheduled. Just our luck, lol. But it worked out and we were able to visit the day before. The memorial was dedicated May 30,1962 and marks the resting place of 1,102 of the 1,177 sailors and Marines killed on USS Arizona (BB-39) during the Japanese surprise attack on that horrible day in 1941. Today Pearl Harbor is visited by more than two million people who wanting to come and pay respect to those whose lives were taken and touched that day. Others come to learn a little bit more about what conspired to lead to such a senseless attack.
I knew some of this history but it was quite different being there, especially seeing it with my Japanese-American husband. I felt sad, angry, and a little bit annoyed. He had mixed feelings as well, being that some of his family had been detained for weeks after the attacks. I can’t imagine what was going through his mind. It definitely affected both of us.
After we picked up our tickets, we started our tour in the exhibit galleries named: "Road to War" and "Attack". These two exhibit galleries bring visitors closer to the sights and sounds of the events leading up to the attack on Oahu and its aftermath. These galleries display personal memorabilia, dramatic photographs, artifacts of the battle, and other exhibits. Kiosks are available to hear history from those who witnessed it. Some of these panels, especially the ones about Yamamoto and his plan to attack Pearl Harbor, made me sick and angry. I am not this way usually, but I wanted to spit on every one of the pictures with him in it, or gouge out his eyes. I know it’s stupid and childish, but that was how I was feeling.
We eventually made it to the theater where we officially started our tour. We set and watched a 23 min documentary with more information about the attack that wasn’t in the galleries. It was very sad and I couldn’t help but imagine what it was like on that day for all the people of Hawaii. I have a cousin serving at Pearl Harbor so it made it even more real for me. After the documentary was over, we all got on a boat which took us out (it is quite a distance from the main buildings) to the actual memorial site. Not surprisingly, everyone was quiet and thinking during the short ride. At least I don’t remember a lot of chatter.
Once we arrived we were able to walk around and see what is left of the USS Arizona and how big it really was. We only had about 10-15 minutes but tried to see as much as we could in that short amount of time. I had heard that there was still oil bubbling up from the ship and was interested to see if it was still happening. I can definitely say yes it is, even though I find it hard to believe it’s still leaking 75 years later. Crazy.
The most impressive things was the memorial wall with the name of all those who lost their lives that day. It made it even more surreal than it already was. I said a quick prayer and we headed back to the boat. We took a few pictures of the USS Arizona memorial from across the water and walked around a little bit.
While walking around we visited the Remembrance Circle which pays tribute to the men, women, and children, both military and civilian, who were killed as a result of the attack on December 7, 1941. Medal of Honor recipients are noted with their names listed in gold lettering, and a bronze 3-D map of Oahu illustrates the various attack targets of that day. It was very well done. Hope you enjoyed our visit and experience of the USS Arizona Memorial. If you want to visit, it is imperative that you make reservations as soon as possible. Here is a link to their website with information and instructions.