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Honolulu USA Pearl Harbor


Entrance To USS Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii

Of all the places I’ve ever been, few are as inspiring as Pearl Harbor, on the Hawaiian Island of Oahu. We all know the story, and we’ve seen the movie, but it is not until one visits the place that the enormity of what happened there really sinks in.

What happened in this place changed the course of World War II, and the history of the world. Looking at the harbour itself, I could almost see and hear the Japanese planes roaring above the water, at 7.55 am on that terrible December 7th, 1941.

On the tour of the USS Arizona Memorial, I was even more awestruck. The tour began with a film that showed the leadup to the Japanese attack, and the actual bombing of Pearl Harbor. There were even film clips taken from Japanese planes, as well as from civilian and military photographers and film makers who were actually there.

The film tells us that five ships and 188 aircraft were destroyed. But the worst statistics were the 2,388 killed. Of these, 1,177 were on one ship alone, the USS Arizona. After the film, we sailed on a navy ferry to the memorial itself. This is an imposing structure, built directly over the sunken battleship, which is still visible beneath the water.

Sunken Remains Of USS Arizona, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii

Most of the dead are still in the wreckage of the massive ship, which is essentially a war cemetery. Looking at the huge marble plaque at the far end of the memorial, with the thousand plus names, the enormity of the colossal losses becomes even more intense.

During my six months living in Honolulu, I became good friends with an ex-Navy Lieutenant Commander fighter pilot and his wife. This lady, I found, had been in Pearl Harbor as a child, and witnessed the attack first hand. I sat enthralled on December 7th, 2007, as she recounted her memories of the terrible day it happened.

Then she told me something that made the entire futility and horror of it sink in. Her father was one of the 1,177 men who died on the USS Arizona.

Also at the Pearl Harbor Memorial are other reminders of war, such as special memorial stones for each ship that was destroyed during the Japanese attack.

There is a war museum, and a tour of the USS Missouri. There are relics of the war, including a Japanese torpedo used during the attack. There is the submarine USS Bowfin.

USS Bowfin

I have visited many war memorials and war sites throughout Australia and the world, just as I have attended many ANZAC Day Dawn Services in Australia, and other war remembrances in different countries. All these have stirred the emotions. There is respect for the brave men and women who took part, some giving their lives. There is also a disapproval for those that started the war, and the war itself, that took so many lives.

But nowhere have I experienced such incredibly strong emotions as those inspired in me by Pearl Harbor, and the story that incredible lady told me.

Other Feature Articles about Hawaii:

Diamond Head Hawaii
Hawaii USA – Sea Life Park
Oahu Hawaii – Swimming With Dolphins
Waikiki Hawaii – Honolulu Tavern Karaoke
December 15 1874 Hawaiian King Kalakaua Visits USA 

December 7 1941 Attack on Pearl Harbor
Barack Obama May Not Be The Antichrist

Pearl Harbor Memorial Stones and USS Bowfin

Pearl Harbor USS Missouri

Pearl Harbor USS Arizona Wreckage

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“My Journey” Articles and Photo Galleries

 

About Craig Hill

Teacher and Writer. Writing has been cited in New York Times, BBC, Fox News, Aljazeera, Philippines Star, South China Morning Post, National Interest, news.com.au, Wikipedia and others.

Discussion

32 thoughts on “Honolulu USA Pearl Harbor

  1. Fascinating post. I had no idea so many dead still remained on board the U.S.S. Arizona. P.S. Thanks for liking my post on Bay View Cemetery. Looks like we both have a fascination with the memorials of those who have gone before us, and depending on your belief system, could have been us.

    Posted by E.J. | January 22, 2012, 21:30
  2. I fully agree with your assessment on the emotional welling up that comes with visiting this memorial. I first visited there in 1970 assigned as a field medic (Navy Hospital Corpsman) with the 1st Marine Expeditionary Brigade, Kaneohe Bay, HI. It was during that visit that I knew that no matter how long the Vietnam war would last, I was going to make the Navy my career choice.

    Having lived aboard submarines, it is overwhelming to try to comprehend what it must have been like to awake below decks while bombs and torpedoes are striking your ship. It is even more overwhelming when one understands that the wreck of the U.S.S. Arizona still holds the bodies of sailor who died between waking from a sweet dream and the horror of war’s first call to battle stations.

    Sailors, rest your oars.

    Thanks for the posting, Craig. Fair winds and following seas.

    –Rick

    Posted by --Rick | February 8, 2012, 11:01
  3. Visited there years ago. The memory still vivid. Hope your article will inspire more people to visit and/or learn more. A visit to Gettysburg PA evoked equally strong feeling in me.

    Posted by pdlyons | February 27, 2012, 01:36
  4. So touching. One day I’d like very much to see this. Until then I have your story, pictures, and the thought of the little girl who lost her father on the boat that day. Thanks for sharing.

    Posted by Jennifer Ward-Pelar | February 28, 2012, 14:20
  5. Wonderful writing and feeling behind what you saw in Hawaii. Thank you.

    Posted by Brook | March 16, 2012, 09:37
  6. FDR and the Democrats pushed Japan into accacking (we were blocking its access to oil); powerful Republicans were isolationists then…

    War memorials, necessarily celebrations of death and destruction, always lead to wonering why we’re so happy to start new cycles of slaughter (provided of course, that it occurs elsewhere). If Iraq and Afghanistan are reactions to 9/11, we are guilty of many times more destruction on our course than al Qaeda following its own, seems to me…

    Posted by jackcurtis | March 18, 2012, 07:24
  7. Great article! Hope to see it one day…
    Thank you for liking 2 of my post 😉

    Posted by jennysserendipity | March 18, 2012, 20:30
  8. Wonderful post! It makes the enormity of the pearl harbor attack sink-in.
    I don’t even know how to react to the dead still in the ship wreck!

    Wars are indeed futile! whatever be the cause of the war, in the end,the lives of all the innocent people lost makes it a very costly affair.

    Posted by Sapna | March 18, 2012, 22:30
  9. I appreciate the time you take to view and “like” my posts. Am sure you can tell I’m new to this. I am capable of learning new things though. 🙂

    Posted by limner1 | April 8, 2012, 05:48
  10. My father visited and had shared his experience. I remember the surface of his emotions for the people he knew who served.

    Posted by chasingtheperfectmoment | April 16, 2012, 02:27
  11. Been there a few times with the navy. Also attended (for the first time in years) this year’s ANZAC Day dawn service. Other than the cannon everything was still the same-old same-old (“Never again! We will remember them! Etc etc yadayakka dribble drip …” and other emotive meaningless babble; all very keen at the time—and ten minutes later business as usual for another year.

    Why business as usual? This is where I come from and why I read ‘revisionist’ history when it surfaces. As a wise person says “If we always do what we’ve always done, we’ll always get what we’ve always got”. Official history is always the Victor’s viewpoint and the grubbier details get glossed over, interred along with the bones of ‘heroes’.

    Dammit, I feel a post coming on …

    Posted by Argus | July 3, 2012, 06:51

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