It has been a few months since I returned from Hawaii, the trip was an amazing trip and I know I will cherish the memories from that trip with my father for the rest of my life. One of the major highlights of the trip was Pearl Harbor.
I haven’t posted about this trip because the experience is so hard to put into words. It was an emotional visit and one that is nearly impossible to put into words. I think I am finally ready to try and put this trip into words because it was a true highlight of my trip, and I know without a doubt it was dad’s.
This is going to be a very long post because I am going to try and fit everything into this post. I am also going to feature book recommendations to read before your visit these are recommended by Packabook. Go check them out they are AWESOME!
First don’t ask Siri to “get directions” to Pearl Harbor. I did that and ended up at a military check point. While it was hilarious (I played dumb to the very cute military guy & dad pretty much rolled me under the bus) it was waste of his time to explain to a tourist this wasn’t Pearl Harbor, I needed to drive a little further. The military is pretty busy, so try to use the actual memorial address vs the just being very vague to Siri.
Another pointer, don’t wear a dress. I did, because I figured “Hey I was in Hawaii a dress is called for” it is very windy and I am pretty sure I flashed my fair share of people.
Also I hate that I feel I need to say this but I am going to just say it and then get off my high horse. Half the people there WILL be Japanese. Get over it, don’t be “that guy” that mouths off to them over the event. Remember they were following orders too. Be respectful. Ok please excuse me while I step off my soap box.
OK now that I have given my tips, let me try to put the experience into words. The memorial was something I hope every American can see in their lifetime. It is a moment in our history when lives were taken and pretty much changed America forever. We had a surprise attack, it was the first time this occurred and many American soldiers were lost. Most teenagers or young adults.
I met a survivor, one of the few left. It was such a sobering experience, and I can’t imagine what he feels when he visits the place where all his brothers were lost. It is something I know I simply just can’t imagine and while I am not an emotional person. I couldn’t help but feeling emotional when I shook his hand.
Before you get on the boat to go to the actual memorial there is a very tasteful video that explains why Japan attacked us, why it was so easily taken and the aftermath. Again I would be lying if I said I didn’t get slightly emotional watching that video, it was very informative and even brought understanding to the Japanese point of view. War is war and it causes loss to both sides.
When we arrived to the Arizona memorial I found it fascinating that oil still leaks from the ship. I also found out the few survivors that should have been on the ship want to be buried at sea with their shipmates. It was one of the most touching stories I heard.
Dad and I spent some time on the Arizona Memorial honoring the fallen, when we decided to go we decided to tour other parts of Pearl Harbor. We decided to tour the USS Bowfin also known as The Pearl Harbor Avenger, we took part in the audio tour and again I was fascinated to see first hand the life our military men (and now women) endear for the safety of our country.
Simply put, I am 5’2″ and I had to duck to get into some of the rooms, talk about tight compartments. The tour lasted about an hour and it was time to walk over to the museum and walk through that. It was fascinating seeing World War 2 artifacts and hearing the stories from Military men, nurses and people who witnessed Pearl Harbor first hand.
It was about lunch time but we were not done, we had to go see the USS Missouri. We spent easily two hours on this ship we took a walking tour with a guide who told us the stories and history of the battleship. We boarded a bus and took us to the military base (the base I illegally had tried to enter earlier) where we were dropped off in front of this mighty battle ship. I was awestruck! It was massive and I couldn’t believe the history that is associated with this ship. Just further proof that travel is one of the best educational opportunities a person can take.
“Let us pray that peace be now restored to the world and that God will preserve it always. These proceedings are closed!“
– General MacArthur, September 2, 1945, aboard USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay
We were able to stand where the famous documents were signed and learned that this was the first AND only time Japan has surrendered. We learned the theories as to why the battleship was chosen to have the papers signed. We learned that a Japanese soldier attempted to kamikaze ship and lost his life in the process. General MacArthur, stated that he would have a soldiers burial because he is a fellow soldier. Touring the ship was deeply moving and I again I was awestruck with the life our military men and woman sign up for.
We toured the ship and it was fun to see the decor of the 90s. (it will make you realize just how old you are!).
By this point it was late afternoon and we still had one more stop to make the Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor dad works with planes and this was going to be the final stop of our trip.
Again I couldn’t help but feel proud to have been born American and see what our ancestors endured so we could have the basic rights we have today, that so many do not have.
Overall this was a very long and very emotionally draining day. I went through so many emotions touring this area while in Hawaii. I felt sadness, anger, pity, happiness, joy… pretty much every emotion a person could feel. I would do this day all over again. If you are in Hawaii this is an absolute MUST do. Believe me you will not regret it.
I will share another post in the future of my favorite photos I took 300 from the day and it is hard to choose my favorites.
Planning a trip to Pearl Harbor soon? Below are some books to get you ready for this very emotional experience
Novels to read while visiting Pearl Harbor
The Lion in the Lei Shop by Kaye Starbird
The bombing of Pearl Harbor through the eyes of a young army officer’s wife and her 5-year old daughter. A rare chance to experience the impact this dramatic period of American history had on its women.
Lucky Come Hawaii by Jon Shirota
The emotions and trauma of the bombing of Pearl Harbor on one Japanese-American family living in Hawaii.
East, Wind, Rain by Caroline Paul
December 1941 and a place crash-lands in an isolated Hawaiian community. When a plane crash-lands on the island, the people who live there have no idea the pilot has just bombed Pearl Harbor.
These reading suggestions are provided by Packabook Travel Novels, the place to go to find novels set in the place you want to travel to. Happy Reading!