Oahu: Pearl Harbor

This morning, we were up, showered, and ready to roll by 9:00am to head into Pearl Harbor to experience the World War II Valor of the Pacific National Park, the USS Arizona Memorial, and the Battleship Missouri.

These stops had a tremendous amount of history, emotion, and contemplation as we enjoyed the museums on the site, recognizing that this location was the start of a world war.  Given all of the conflict of the world today, if we cannot remember the events of our past, we are certainly destined to repeat them.

The Valor of the Pacific park was recently renovated and expanded and offered a number of great exhibits and things to see.  Along with the exhibits, the grounds incorporated a number of memorial spaces and learning exhibits that could be seen and reviewed as you worked your way through the park.

From here, we had 11:30am tickets to head to the USS Arizona Memorial, which is made up of a movie presentation providing an overview of the entry of the United States into the War as well as a timeline of events that we would be passing through in the next part of the tour.  Once the movie was completed, we made our way onto a Navy vessel and as a single ship, we made our way out to the memorial.  This white, rectangular complex was simple in design and not terribly large.  It sits no more than a few feet above the water line and sits perpendicular to the sunken USS Arizona, where you can view a few components of the ship still siting exactly as it was when it was sunk.  To this day, many of the sailors killed in that fatal attack still remain in the vessel as it was left exactly as it was on the day it sank.  In fact, survivors of the attack have been granted the ability to request their remains to be placed in the confines of the ship, so that the recently deceased that served on-board may return to their family of the Arizona.

On the wall of the memorial, hundreds of names are inscribed and the entire monument is relatively quiet, though there is a park ranger to answer questions of visitors.  While some people have no connection to the event, other released flowers from a lei into the water, some took pictures of the name of a loved one, and others just took it all in.  It was a great opportunity and one that will have a lasting impression on both of us.

In order to allow others to visit the memorial, our time was limited, and we returned to the shore a short time later.  From here, we headed to the opposite side of the harbor, to Ford Island and to the location of the Battleship Missouri, the very ship upon which the Japanese surrender and the peace treaty of the war was signed.  We toured the amazing ship, which has a very lasting legacy in the fleet, serving in a number of wars and even was the famed ship in Desert Shield that was featured countless times on television firing the Tomahawk missiles into Iraq.  At the time of the Iraq War, the ship was over 70 years old and still performing a hugely important task to protect the security of our world.

We got to not only board the ship, but tour a number of public areas, including the mess hall, living quarters, officers mess and several other components of the huge vessel.  In addition, we were able to see the 9 huge turrets that fired all of the massive projectiles at a highly precise accuracy from a distance of 23 miles.

From here, we headed back to the beach house, where Scott and Sophie had a BBQ on the beach with steaks, pork tenderloin, spaghetti, and plenty of good company and friends.

After another great day, we headed off to sleep.  Tomorrow — Swap Meet!

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