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A Visit to Hawaii IV-Remembering Pearl Harbor

Touring a Shrine to American History

December 7, 1941 "a date which will live in infamy". That is how President Franklin D. Roosevelt described the day Japanese air and naval forces bombed Pearl Harbor, a US Naval base in Honolulu, Hawaii. The attack is frequently cited by Historians as a major turning point in World War II because it forced the United States to join the war effort against Japan and its allies. After Germany invaded Poland on Sept. 1, 1939, the majority of Americans thought the country should not intervene in World War II. This feeling fell in line with the policy of isolationism American leaders had implemented at that time.

The United States and other nations had placed trade embargoes on Japan to check its expansion, but toward the end of 1941, Japan had managed to capture key territories and oil resources in parts of Asia. America had refused to lift existing embargoes unless Japan left some of these territories, so Gen. Hideki Tojo secretly decided that Nov. 29 would be the last date Japan would accept a settlement with America to lift trade embargoes. When the date passed, Japan devised a plan to invade territories across Asia and the Pacific but was afraid of interference from the U.S. Pacific Fleet based in Pearl Harbor. Thus, they commenced the attack on the US Naval Base at Pearl Harbor.

As a student of History at Auburn University, my major area of concentration was American History and in particular the World War II period of time. The bombing of Pearl Harbor had always fascinated me. I read everything I could about it and now that the country of Japan is a close friend and ally of the United States, there is much more information on Japan's point of view and decision making process available to history lovers like me. It was therefore, with a great deal of anticipation and excitement, that I looked forward to my visit to Pearl Harbor on the last day of our Hawaii vacation.

Photo of the USS Arizona which suffered a direct hit during the Bombing

My husband and I decided to rent a car for the day so that we could take our time touring Pearl Harbor and all of the historic sites there, including the USS Arizona memorial. We arrived at Pearl Harbor early in the day and purchased tickets to the museums and the USS Arizona Memorial. There is much to see at Pearl Harbor, too much to see in a day but we would do the best we could. For information on the tour, see the following link:

Pearl Harbor Tour Website

Entering the facility we were told that it was best to start our tour with a short film containing actual footage of the bombing and its aftermath from 1941. From there we would board a shuttle that would take us out to the USS Arizona Memorial site. The film did not start for another 30 minutes, so Reginald and I decided to visit one of the museums. It was a very interesting exhibit containing battleship models and war memorabilia.



Before we knew it, it was time to get in line for the film and trip to the Arizona Memorial. The line to get inside the theater was not all that long and in no time we were seated close to the front where we had a great view of the movie screen. As the film began to roll, I was immediately transported back in time to circa 1940 and 1941 watching the people and events that lead to World War II and the attack on Pearl Harbor. I was amazed at the footage of the actual bombing and the terrifying aftermath. The numbers of injured and killed during the event were staggering. Some 2,388 Americans died in the attack, 1,178 Americans were wounded and 21 American ships were sunk or damaged. It was a real shock to know that 1,177 Americans involved in the attack were serving on the USS Arizona which now lay at the bottom of the harbor with the bodies of all those that died aboard her still in entombed there. With these sobering images and thoughts in our minds, we boarded the shuttle to the USS Arizona Memorial after leaving the theater.

View of USS Arizona Berth at Pearl Harbor

USS Arizona Memorial site, sitting right over the submerged ship

Just before exiting the shuttle after the short ride to the Memorial, a US Park Service guide reminded us all that we would be entering "a church" and to treat the site with dignity and respect. Everyone on the shuttle, more than 50 people or so, heeded her words. You could hear a pin drop as we entered the facility. To say that I was moved beyond words is an understatement. The memory of looking out at the rusting hull of the once mighty war ship, knowing of the souls who still resided there under the waves is one that will remain with me forever.



Hull of the USS Arizona rising out of the water

The hull of the Arizona was so close under the water, I felt I could almost touch it with my fingers

The return trip from the Arizona Memorial was quiet, everyone seemed to be lost in their own thoughts. My husband and I stopped at the Visitor Center gift shop to buy some gifts to take home before heading back to our resort to begin packing for the trip home the next day. It had been a memorable day and a fine way to finish our trip to Hawaii. What can I say about my very first trip to Hawaii and the island of Oahu? The experience was more than I dreamed it could be. It was more than I could ask for and I will remember it always.

Next up, I make a return trip to the islands of Hawaii and learn more about Americas Islands of Paradise.

To be continued.......

Gerrilyn Grant Gipson Esq.
Owner & Travel Consultant
Meetings & Events Unlimited Travel Services

Posted by Gerriv 07:42

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Awesome post! I'm sitting here looking at the pictures (which are fabulous as always) and stunned at the images of the Arizona just under the water. I can only imagine the reverence that was displayed when the park service agent reminded everyone where they were and how many had died on that fateful day.

You know I want to get to Hawaii ASAP. However, my interest has always been the beach and the volcanoes. It was never any real deal to me to visit Pearl Harbor, but now I feel like I should visit the memorial when I do cross the Pacific.

Excellent work, G!

by Amaya Radjani

Thanks Amaya!

That is exactly what I was trying to get across in this post, that Hawaii has so much to offer visitors and Pearl Harbor is part of American history that should be seen by everyone! I'm so glad you enjoyed it!

by Gerriv

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