We got up early to go to the Pearl Harbor memorial.
Research really does pay off. Everything I read made it clear that if you don't get in line early to get the tickets, you won't make it in for the day. I also knew that you couldn't bring with you anything that couldn't fit in your pockets. Yes, that includes - no purses, no camera bags, etc. That has to be checked in.
So, we were at the front of the line with no baggage to worry about. Our tickets were for 8am, which is the first boat ride to the Pearl Harbor exhibit. We had an hour to wait for the boat ride, so we went to the outdoor theater to watch a movie on the history of Pearl Harbor. Along the walkway to the boat ride, there are names and ranks and honors given to those affected by Pearl Harbor.
One Plaque read: "Sunday Morning, December 7, 1941, at Pearl Harbor began routinely. Sailors and marines turned out for church services, morning colors, and chow. They looked forward to off-duty time for recreation, letter-writing, or sleep. It was Sunday in the peacetime Navy. The Navy was preparing for war at sea, but not for a massive air attack. Unknown to the Americans, more than 350 Japanese planes were headed this way from aircraft carriers north of the island, while Japanese midget submarines probed harbor defenses. At 7:55a.m., the first wave of enemy planes appeared overhead, just as American sailors and marines assembled on their vessels to raise the "Stars and Stripes."
Gives me chills just reading it...
2,402 military killed
1,247 military wounded
57 civilians killed
35 civilians wounded
We were the first group to board the boat that would take us to the memorial. It was made clear to the visitors to treat this memorial with respect - no loud talking, turn the cell phones off, no playing and laughing or rude behavior. If anyone acted inappropriately, the person would be quickly removed from the premises. After being there, I can't imagine anyone behaving rudely. It was too poignant of an experience. Even though it was a crowd, it was pin drop quiet and a humbling feeling.
When we arrived at the memorial, the oil smell was on the air and you could see the oil sheen on the water. I remember reading the oil seeping is called the "tears of the Arizona" by the Pearl Harbor survivors.
It gave me chills knowing that men who served our country were trapped in the ship just feet below where I was standing. We were standing on their watery grave.
The memorial structure is rectangular across the middle of the sunken Arizona. The structure dips down in the middle. The dip in the middle symbolizes the harshness of the war, the rise on either side represents the strength of America and the recovery pre and post war.
We learned that those who survived Pearl Harbor who served on the USS Arizona - when the survivors passed away, they could request to be buried with their shipmates. The body would be cremated and put in an urn, then the urn would be submerged to a hole in the USS Arizona.
It was sad and impressive... a design to make one realize what a huge tragedy Pearl Harbor was and how this tragedy led us into the war. Nothing in the history books can deliver the emotions like this memorial did...
God Bless America