Pearl Harbor

Today we took my parents to Pearl Harbor’s historical sights and it was a first for us as well.  We started early, arriving at 830am on a tip from a friend to go early.  We were given tickets for a 915 movies that would then lead onto a boat ride over to the USS Arizona Memorial. 

I knew about the events of December 7, 1941 from history classes and my education growing up.  But you can’t fathom the number of lives lost until you set eyes on this memorial.  Just the memorials on shore before you even go over to the USS Arizona memorial are staggering and sobering.  I took 200 photos today. 

The movie is powerful and it tells the story of the events leading up to Pearl Harbor and the reasons why so many lives were lost.  The US knew that Japan was getting ready for a possible attack on the US and it was the reason that the entire Pacific Fleet was at Pearl Harbor that day.  The Navy was aware of the threat and they trained for a possible attack vigilantly.  But they were thinking of an infiltration rather than an air war.  The US had an impressive fleet of battleships but they never counted on Japan having the ability to launch over 400 planes from a ship in the middle of the pacific.  They didn’t count on the Japanese Navy being able to drop specially designed underwater missiles into the waters of pearl harbor. 

The first wave of a little over 300 aircraft was spotted by the Army radar at around 8am and they sent up the alert but were told not to worry about it because the command assumed it was a group of fighter planes that were expected in that day.  So they got by our initial defenses.  The planes bombed and torpedoed Pearl harbor at a scale that had never been seen before and has never been repeated.  

The USS Arizona still lies beneath the waters of Pearl Harbor today, the USS Missouri was restored to service, as were a good portion of the other ships that we hit that day, and is now a monument and can be toured.  The USS Bowfin submarine can also be toured. 

Just the short 15 minute video is moving.  They ask you to be respectful and tour quietly.  It’s virtually instinctual to do so.  When you arrive at the memorial that has been built over top of the USS Arizona you can’t help but feel the sadness in this place.  Most of the men that were aboard the ship that day were killed, and a good number of them are entombed there. 

The survivors that have been entombed with their fellow sailors on the USS Arizona

After we visited the USS Arizona Memorial we walked the grounds surrounding the visitor center and the monuments around it, as well as the USS Bowfin which we did not board.  The sheer number of memorials is unbelievable.  I took pictures of every one just for the purposed of this blog.  Here —>

Once we left the National Park we drove over to Ford Island to see the USS Utah memorial.  This memorial is not accessible to the public.  It is only accessible to those with military ID or their sponsored guests.  So it was neat to be able to take my parents to this place.  Off shore the ship sits listing to its side.

We then drove over to the other side of this small island and saw some old hangars and the pacific aviation museum, though we did not enter.  We were also able to get a better look at the USS Missouri and the USS Oklahoma memorial. 

The undertone of then entire day was somewhat somber, and greatly humbling.  It put in perspective to me this day in american history that I never knew the gravity of until today.  Until today the number of lives lost that day where a picture from a movie, and unfathomable by someone who has never visited this sacred place. 

The experience has given me a greater appreciation of the world-changing events of that day and sacrifice and courage that it takes to serve your country.  I thought I understood it because I’m an army wife.  But today it was almost real.  Reading the thousands of names on those plaques was very moving.


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