Pearl Harbor

What is not completely clear from the guidebooks, is that the main Pearl Harbor site, and museum, is where you embark for the USS Arizona Memorial. It is operated by the National Park Service and has free admission, but they let limited numbers in, and so you need to get there early to get your ticket. We went with a tour organized at the kids' hotel.

Here is what the harbor looks like from the "front yard" of the museum grounds. You can see the USS Missouri and the Arizona Memorial in the distance:

Pearl Harbor

There are other attractions at the Harbor that we did not have time to visit. But we were able to see them across the way. One is the USS Missouri, the battleship upon which the Japanese surrender at the end of World War II was signed. And the other is the USS Bowfin submarine museum:

USS Missouri USS Bowfin

The museum we visited was full of interesting exhibits, much more than you could thoroughly explore during the time spent waiting for your turn to go out to the Memorial. Here is one of a series of plaques which lists the names of all the people, civilian and military who were killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor December 7, 1941, along with the plaque designating the area as a registered historic landmark:

Pearl Harbor plaque Pearl Harbor plaque

When they call your group's number, you get on one of these Navy launches, which takes you out to the Memorial itself, which is the site of the sunken battleship:

Pearl Harbor boat Approach to Arizona Memorial

Here are a couple of other harbor views that you get from the launch:

Pearl Harbor Ships in the harbor

But the end point of the short boat ride is the Arizona Memorial, a strikingly simple, and quite lovely, white shell:

Arizona Memorial Arizona Memorial

The water is shallow where the ship lies, so shallow that you can see it, along with the oil that still leaks from it. This is a diagram in the Park Service brochure that shows how the Memorial structure relates to the sunken ship:

Arizona Memorial sketch

Often visitors throw flowers onto the water where you can look down and see the vessel. On the right is a part of its structure which shows above the water:

USS Arizona Part of the Arizona

The interior of the Memorial is a quiet, peaceful place, with its odd windows letting light in to illuminate the list of the names of the men who died on the Arizona. Here is also the ship's dock, where it was moored when it was hit on December 7, 1941:

Names in the Arizona Memorial Arizona's dock Arizona Memorial window

Here are more shots of the list of names, 1,177 crewmen in all:

Names in Arizona Memorial Names in the Arizona Memorial

Names in Arizona Memorial

I found the Memorial to be a profoundly moving experience. I couldn't stop thinking about the families of those young men, and what they must have felt when they heard about the attack. The museum is interesting and we learned a lot there about the attack and the war in the Pacific, but just spending some time in the Memorial made the trip worthwhile.

Arizona Memorial Flag on Arizona Memorial

On the bus ride home, we made a quick stop at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (known as the Punchbowl).

Punchbowl Memorial View of Honolulu

In addtion to its lovely setting, with nice views of downtown Honolulu, attractions are the graves of war correspondent Ernie Pyle and Challenger astronaut Ellison Onizuka, who was from Hawaii.

Pyle grave Onizuka grave

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