“A Date Which Will Live in Infamy” is a famous quote by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, regarding December 7, 1941. This day marked the United States decision to enter Word War II, and this day is frozen in time, here at the Pear Harbor naval base, which now serves as a memoriam for those who lost their lives and one of the islands most popular tours. There are many ways to experience Pear Harbor, we splurged on an all day trip to the U.S.S. Missouri, Pacific Aviation Museum, Pearl Harbor Visitors’ Center and the U.S.S. Arizona memorial. The tours range from self guided, to half day to all day tours. If you are staying in Waikiki, most all day tours will pick you up in front of your hotel and bring you back at the end of the day.
First stop: U.S.S. Missouri (9 a.m.)
Before the tour, guests are shuttled past the captain’s wheel for a photo opp, then led up a ramp onto the ship. This historic ship, ordered in 1940 and commissioned in 1944, is the size of about two and a half football fields and is now a museum. Points of interest include the 9 x 16 inch/50 cal Mark 7 guns, the exact location where Foreign Minister to Japan Mamoru Shigemitsu surrendered to General Douglas MacArthur on September 2, 1945, and the newly built kamikaze museum below deck.
Second stop: Pacific Aviation Museum
Thirty four airplanes are housed in two hangars. Kids of all ages can get up close to these World War I and II planes in a self guided tour. It was cool to see how technology and the construction of the planes differ (in some cases quite drastically). The gift shop doubles as a waiting area and offers 1940s era goods and toys for little ones.
Third stop: Pearl Harbor Visitors’ Center, U.S.S. Arizona memorial and the U.S.S. Bowfin
The minimum one can move through Pearl Harbor Visitors’ Center is an hour, most people take at least three to four hours. The visitor center includes a museum, galleries such as “Road to War” and “Attack,” along with artwork and sculptures throughout the grounds. Audio tours includes interviews of soldiers who served at Pearl Harbor are available.
After the audio tour, a 20-minute film about the attack on Pearl Harbor, is shown, then visitors get onto a boat and head out to the U.S.S. Arizona memorial. It’s truly a somber moment seeing 1,177 names up on the wall, as well as to see the ship in the place it sank, below the walkway Taking it all in is an experience I won’t forget. It’s important to be respectful while on the memorial: no hats, no phone calls and remember to try and stay as quiet as possible.
Once returning back to the visitors’ center, an added bonus is a submarine called the U.S.S. Bowfin. Expect tight quarters, an audio tour is available here too, which showcases how the soldiers lived aboard. Visitors will tour sleeping quarters, the kitchen (and the artwork they had pinned up), and lavatories.
My only regret was not knowing more about the what happened during this historical event. Here's a list of books and movies you can get to prepare from our travel shop.
By Leigh Walker