USS Arizona Memorial Provides Many Moving Moments
You can see it on TV specials and documentaries but nothing can actually prepare you emotionally for visiting Pearl Harbor.
The tour is free but the memories are a treasure. (There are paid van tours which can be set up and leave from every hotel in Waikiki Beach. They are as easy to find as sand. And at the venue, donations are accepted.)
First, you go to a waiting room of sorts, which is really a mini museum. Then you board a small boat and ride out to the USS Arizona Memorial.
When you step from the boat onto the white open-air structure, which is over the sunken ship, the mood of everyone changes. You go from chatting with friends and others to complete silence.
You move around the structure – which is small, only capable of holding a few dozen people –with a quiet respect. The monument is like a T-bone over the ship and on a wall are the names of those who died during the attack on that day of infamy.
It’s easy to spend several minutes just staring at the wall, slowly reading the names. But there are so many of them, 1,177. This is when the reality of the attack really starts to take hold of the mind. The list is so long it’s impossible to read all the names.
All around you there is silence. It’s like being at a funeral, but a funeral for people you don’t know and never knew, but respect.
This is a good time to peer over the side. Droplets of oil rise to the surface out of the ship. It’s said they are actually the tears of those who lost their lives.
You can stay as long as you like, but somewhere around 20 minutes is enough time. Then you board another boat and return to shore.
No matter what else you do in Hawaii, and how much you whoop it up in the bars of Waikiki Beach, those moments at Pearl Harbor will stay with you for a long time.
VISITING PEARL HARBOR
• 1,300 walk-in tickets are available daily at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center, which opens at 7:00 a.m. Tickets are free and available on a first come, first serve basis.
• You can also get tickets in advance by calling 1-877-444-6777 or on-line at: www.recreation.gov
• Hours: Daily, 7 a.m.-5 p.m.
• Address: 1 Arizona Memorial Place, Honolulu, HI 96818