Honolulu USA Pearl Harbor

Pearl Harbor Hawaii USA USS Arizona Memorial

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.

Pearl Harbor Hawaii USA USS Arizona Memorial

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.

Pearl Harbor Hawaii USA USS BowfinI 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.

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Pearl Harbor Hawaii USA USS Arizona Memorial
Published at

July 31st 2008 13:28

Categories: Travel - World

Tags: , , , , ,

29 replies

  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.


  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.



  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.


  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.


  5. Wonderful writing and feeling behind what you saw in Hawaii. Thank you.


  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…


  7. Great article! Hope to see it one day…
    Thank you for liking 2 of my post 😉


  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.



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  4. Waikiki Hawaii USA Honolulu Tavern Karaoke « Craig Hill
  5. Diamond Head Hawaii « Craig Hill
  6. December 15 1874 Hawaiian King Kalakaua Visits USA « Craig Hill
  7. December 7 1941 Attack on Pearl Harbor « Craig Hill
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