Pearl Harbor – My Hawaiian Diary (Part Three)   3 comments

Boarding the Submarine

From the lanai at 6am I watch the island and its people come alive: the woman waiting for the bus to work; the garbage truck with its working men (yes, even in almost-paradise someone has to pick up the trash). Malihinis (tourists) are already heading towards the ocean and even though Shay and Kas are still sleeping, it’s all I can do to stop myself from yelling “Wait for me!”

View from USS Bowfin

Breakfast consists of an orientation meeting and a buffet with Miso soup. Not our usual morning fare but as the saying goes, “When in Rome…”.

Within the hour, the hotel arranges a shuttle and we’re heading down Kamehameha Highway on our way to Pearl Harbour. When I go to a place that the whole world is familiar with, I get a sense that I’m one of the privileged few and always try to appreciate everything about where I am.

The Arizona Memorial is an absolute must-see and, although there’s no admission fee, only 4500 tickets are given out each day so it pays to get there early. With tickets in hand for 2 hours later, we board some of the other vessels and begin exploring.

Shay in Temperature Control Room

I’ve never ventured into a submarine and was really interested in the USS Bowfin: the galley; the mess hall; the control rooms; the cramped sleeping quarters; the loo with a see-through door (eeew!!)…it’s all so fascinating! Moving through the oval hatches between each compartment is like choreographing a dance as we lift each leg up and over while lowering our heads at the same time. I visualize the sailors flying through these doors just as you see in movies when the sub gets flooded and I also try to fly through but succeed only in shoving my kneecap up a nostril. Of course, momentum then dictates that my head must be rammed up into the top of the door frame resulting in my own version of choreography that, thankfully, nobody was behind to witness!

Our next stop is the USS Missouri, otherwise known as Mighty Mo. It boggles my brain how these things can possibly float on water and it’s exciting to think that General Douglas MacArthur stood where I now stand and walked where I now walk. We climb numerous steps to get as high up as possible and are rewarded with an exceptional view of the harbor and the surrounding area.

On Board USS Missouri – Mighty Mo

US Flag at Arizona Memorial

USS Arizona Memorial – view from the Navy launch

A Navy launch takes us to where the Memorial sits exactly over the USS Arizona. It resembles a bridge and is sunken in the middle – representing a nations depression – and is higher at each end representing the height of American pride before and after the war. There’s a respectful silence as we all step onto the structure. Slowly making our way along the Memorial, our skin is caressed by the warm Pacific breeze that wafts through the openings and we take in the monument and the spectacular view of Pearl Harbor. As we look down to where you can actually see parts of the sunken ship and try to imagine what it was like on that fateful day in 1941, we realize that we simply cannot.

Moving along we see wreaths in front of a marble wall which has the names of those who perished engraved into it. Prior to boarding the launch, we listened to a survivor of the Arizona as he shared with us how, on that day, 24 sets of brothers died on the Arizona alone. My heart broke when I heard that. I thought of those mothers that suffered the most terrible thing a mother can go through – the loss of a child – only their pain was doubled.

Marble Wall of Names

Part of USS Arizona

View From Inside the Memorial

Standing here inside the stark white Memorial, gazing down at the exposed rusty part of a tank, I take a moment to pay my respects to the 1,177 brave souls that are entombed in the watery grave below. I get a lump in my throat and a few tears in my eyes and the fact that I’m not American has absolutely no bearing. Pearl Harbor, while having become a real tourist haven, has done a superb job of preserving and protecting the memory of those who died on that day with this simple yet tasteful momument.


Posted July 8, 2012 by Jaclyn in Holidays, Memories, Parks, Travel

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3 responses to “Pearl Harbor – My Hawaiian Diary (Part Three)

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  1. Fond memories just come flooding to me when I see this post! Thanks for sharing!

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