Wednesday, October 6, 2010

NBWM6 Pearl Harbor

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


The Golden Eagle said...

That was such a tragic event.

Coffeypot said...

Been there many time while in the Navy. Also, when a ship comes into or leaves the harbor, it must render a salute by having everyone on board face the monument and the ship sound it's horn.

RGB said...

It was indeed a tragic day in history. But, nothing justifies war.

Ugich Konitari said...


I am so glad you gave me this tour . My children and i were in Hawaii in the summer of 1992, en route to India, and this was one thing we missed out. Though I suppose that was as it should be as the children were very young, and would have disturbed the seriousness of the whole thing, and the solemnity of the occasion , which you have described so well .

I look forward to more such hawaii posts !

Sniffles and Smiles said...

Oh, Aleta!! Thank you!!! I have always wanted to visit this!!! And your photos and description really brought it all alive to me!!! Your post brought tears and chills...I am grateful and thankful for the sacrifices made by our military men and women!!! Wonderful post!! ~Janine XO

Joanna Jenkins said...

That is a stunning post Aleta. Thank you so much. This is a place I would have never seen otherwise.

TetVet68 said...

Remember Pearl Harbor -- Keep America Alert!

(Now deceased) America's oldest living Medal of Honor recipient, living his 101st year is former enlisted Chief Petty Officer, Aviation Chief Ordnanceman (ACOM), later wartime commissioned Lieutenant John W. Finn, U. S. Navy (Ret.). He is also the last surviving Medal of Honor, "The Day of Infamy", Japanese Attack on the Hawaiian Islands, Naval Air Station, Kaneohe Bay, Oahu, Territory of Hawaii, 7 December 1941.

(Now deceased) 'Navy Centenarian Sailor', 103 year old, former enlisted Chief Petty Officer, Aviation Chief Radioman (ACRM, Combat Aircrewman), later wartime commissioned Chief Warrant Officer Julio 'Jay' Ereneta, U. S. Navy (Ret.), is a thirty year career veteran of World War One and World War Two. He first flew aircrewman in August 1922; flew rearseat Radioman/Gunner (1920s/1930s) in the tactical air squadrons of the Navy's first aircraft carriers, USS LANGLEY (CV-1) and USS LEXINGTON (CV-2).

Visit my photo album tribute to these centenarian veteran shipmates and other Pearl Harbor Survivors:

San Diego, California

beclever said...

I have to say, I have heard so many stories of various military attacks from many different sides, and not just from history books. Perhaps I had become numb, so that the idea of Pearl Harbor never triggered much emotion, it just felt like something that happened to someone else, to some other generation. That has changed, since reading your post, Aleta. You have brought together the imagery and the experience of visiting the memorial in such a way that my belly sunk and the tears came and I really understood the true impact of that day, on our servicemen and servicewomen, and the citizens of our country. I think the most impactful was when you shared what they said about the peaceful beginnings of that Sunday, and then the aerial image of the memorial. I always thought it was a strange memorial, I never saw it from above- where you can see Arizona. Wow. You really presented this in such a way that was both chilling and poetic and respectful, while capturing the essence of your experience, while still emotionally presenting the reality of why the memorial needs to exist. Bravo!

Shana said...

Thank you for this touching post. I've been to Hawaii once (I was 13), but we didn't go to Oahu, just the Big Island and Kauai. We flew over Pearl Harbor, but I didn't get to see much of the full effect or quite understand the gravity of it at 13. Your pictures and post capture it.

Sree said...

It is a visual tour.. thanks so much for this.. the tragedy is beyond words to express..