Holiday in Hawaii #19
On a sunny day the vast expanse of blue water that is Pearl Harbour is calm and peaceful. This tranquil scene belies the harbour’s history as the site of the air attack in the Pacific that brought the United States of America into World War II. Early on 7th December 1941, hundreds of fighter planes from the Japanese Imperial Navy attacked the US Pacific Fleet stationed on Oahu, killing 2390 and sinking or damaging 21 ships.
There are several historic sites at Pearl Harbour, including the USS Arizona Memorial, the Battleship Missouri Memorial and the USS Bowfin Submarine. It’s free to visit the USS Arizona Memorial and accompanying exhibitions, but the queue begins long before opening time and it’s first in first served. In order to avoid the long queue, we pre-purchase a guaranteed entry ticket.
We watch a short documentary movie about the history of Pearl Harbour before boarding a shuttle boat for a ride across the harbour to the memorial. Even though there are many people at the memorial, the atmosphere is quiet and reflective.
The feeling of respectful contemplation continues on the USS Bowfin Submarine. We buy tickets for a self-guided walk which goes the full length of the inside of the WW2 submarine through the engine room, torpedo room and sleeping quarters. After looking at the cramped conditions inside, I decide that submariner is not my dream job!
To visit the Battleship Missouri, we travel on a shuttle bus from the Visitor Centre to Ford Island. Before exploring above and below decks by ourselves, we join a guided tour of the top deck, three football fields long. The documents that ended the war in the Pacific on 2nd September, 1945 were signed on the Missouri.
We arrived at opening time and we stay all day; the gates close behind us as we leave. It’s been a day of listening, learning and paying our respects – a day well spent.