December 7, 1941. A date which will live in infamy.
– Franklin D. Roosevelt
Before visiting Pearl Harbor, I only knew the basic details of that day. Every history lesson, from high school to university, simply skimmed the surface of this pivotal World War II event. I can say I watched the movie, but that again doesn’t go into the story. I wanted to know more: who, what, when, where, why? When I arranged my travel plans so I could visit Honolulu, Pearl Harbor was number one on my list of places to visit.
It is very easy to access from downtown Waikiki via buses on Kuhio Avenue, just check timetables for more information.
You can purchase all types of tickets that will allow you to visit the four main sites at Pearl Harbor: the USS Arizona Memorial, USS Missouri, USS Bowfin and Pacific Aviation Museum. There are also souvenir stores, museums and information centres to peruse to learn even more. You could easily spend a full day here visiting all the sites, however I went for a few hours and decided to go inside the USS Bowfin and USS Missouri.
It surprised me how many Japanese tourists were at the site, taking photos of themselves posing next to the war machines, memorials. I wanted to ask them how they feel, why were they there.
For the USS Bowfin there is an audio tour you take, which I always love, as it allows me to go at my own pace. I was in awe of the cramped conditions marines lived in inside the submarine: from where they slept, worked and ate. I tried to place myself in their position, but I honestly believe I would become claustrophobic being underwater for long periods of time. I love the water but not that much. They were brave men. Every person involved in every war is.
You take a free shuttle bus over to Ford Island to visit the USS Missouri. As we drove over and passed the military housing, I recognised buildings from the movie and TV show, Hawaii Five-O. You can take a tour with a guide, but I decided to walk around myself. On her decks Japan surrendered to the USA in 1945, so she’s just a bit important. I was once again walking around with my jaw open, amazed at her size and power. I didn’t realise the weapons on the bow of the ship were that huge.
There are displays inside different sections of the ship for you to read also. I was intrigued by the beauty of the captain’s quarters. They were spectacular. A place for them to attempt to “escape” I guess.
The events that occurred that day at Pearl Harbor changed World War II for everyone, including Australia, who was an ally of the United States. It saddens me the amount of young boys and people with families had to die in an event like this in order for us to survive. Lest we forget.
You ask what is our aim? I can answer in one word: Victory. Victory at all costs. Victory in spite of all terror. Victory however long and hard the road may be. For without victory there is no survival.
– Winston Churchill