One of the main things I wanted to do since we were on the island of Oahu, was visit Pearl Harbor. Not really because I’m some sort of history junkie, but because it’s such a major part of history. How can you be in that vicinity, for maybe the only time in your life, and not go there?
We were told at the travel office on base that if we wanted to tour Pearl Harbor and the Arizona Memorial, we needed to get there really early because it’s free and first come, first serve. When we went out on the first day to purchase our cruise tickets, we were right at Pearl Harbor. We went over to check it out, and all the tickets had been given out for the day. It was only noon!! The next day was New Year’s Day and the memorial was be closed…so we had to wait until our 3rd day.
We got up early. Who wants to do that on vacation?? Certainly not me. However, I was really worried that we wouldn’t get there in time for a ticket, or that we’d get there so late that our time slot would be for much later in the day…and that wouldn’t cut it since Donald had to begin working that day, so we had to get there early.
They start giving out tickets at 7:30am. We got in line at 7am…and it was quite a line. I should’ve taken a picture of the line. I thought it was a horrible place to be in line…I had no idea how many tickets they gave out daily. Fortunately, there was a guy in line behind us who has visited the memorial five times. He said that we were in a fine spot; he even said that our time slot would probably be for somewhere around 10am. We watched the line curl into a huge open area. Tour buses unloaded…and we were so glad they were behind us! The line moved surprisingly quick…and our tickets were for 9:10am!!
Until your tour time, you can tour the museum and gift shop. There have really interesting memorabilia in the museum – letters from sailors giving their account of what happened that day, models of all the planes and ships involved, and some wreckage recovered in the days following the attack.
When your time is called, you go into a theater and watch a documentary about the events on December 7, 1941. It’s all very interesting. I really learned a lot…and I shouldn’t tell you what all I learned because then you’ll think this Valedictorian is a doofus!! Really, I don’t remember what I ever learned about Pearl Harbor in school…and I’ve not seen the movie…so I learned how many people died that day, more about why it happened and that it wasn’t only about the Harbor. There were 3 or 4 other military bases on the island that were also attacked. (Is this stuff in Ben Affleck’s movie? Cause if it is, and you’ve seen it, you think I’m an idiot!!! Oh well. I will rent that 3 hour movie someday.)
After the documentary, you board a ferry and ride out to the Arizona Memorial. Over 1,100 men died when that ship was hit and sunk. The ship sank so quickly that some bodies were never recovered and were entombed within. There are a few parts of the ship above the water, and the ship is still leaking oil…that is incredible. Inside the Memorial, the names of those who perished are engraved in marble.
There are still some men alive who survived this attack. When they die, their names will be added to the memorial.
It is a solemn place.
It was an honor to visit.