Oahu – Pearl Harbor Monument

Returned this week from our holiday in Oahu. We had great weather the whole time, though it did rain here and there. We’re used to that and it was 80 degrees after all.

Went to the Pearl Harbor Monument and to the USS Arizona Memorial – this was an incredibly moving experience. Before you take the boat over you watch a 20 minute movie about the attack on Pearl Harbor. I wanted my kids to understand the gravity of the entire place and that movie did it.

We went through the USS BOWFIN first – a submarine and my claustrophobic mom even went on the tour.

I love this shot – up a ladder from deep inside the sub. It’s amazing to me that men and women live on submarines in the cramped and really hot conditions.

They’ve got two museums there – the first is more general, with fun stuff about the culture of the time, some interesting displays for many of the different subs and ships that called Pearl Harbor home, that sort of thing.

They also had a museum specific to December 7 – which had pictures and live film from the day. Somber, sobering and done very well.

And then we took a boat from the site over to the USS ARIZONA MEMORIAL. I can’t really do justice to this. I took many pictures, but none of them really captures it. In the distance there’s a white building that straddles the midsection of the ship, which is still there, submerged, entombed with the bodies of the men who died that day.

It is deceptively simple. The ceiling is open in the center and you look up to see

It was a gorgeous day. And I stood with my children over the graves of people who’d danced the night before they died, trapped on a ship so very close to shore.

You can’t see the whole ship from any one place but the sky as you fly over. What you can see are bits and pieces of the ship like this.  It’s a puzzle in many ways, the full impact of it is still hard to put together. But whoever designed the memorial clearly had a vision and it’s one I think was executed perfectly.

I only had the small lens with me that day, but this is at the end of the building. A huge room upon which the names of the dead are inscribed on the wall. It’s all so much it’s hard to quantify, even with numbers and that lone bone white building huddling over the carcass of the ship. But as I stood there, it was the combination of the steps that led to that last room that brought it all together.

The memorial is majestic. It’s beautiful and simple. Elegant even. I’m very glad I was there with my kids and my parents including my dad the Navy vet.

(I’ll be back with pictures of the celebratory stuff later in the week)

6 comments to “Oahu – Pearl Harbor Monument”

  1. Estella
    January 1st, 2011 at 1:10 pm · Link

    I saw this in 1983. It was a very moving experience.

  2. Lori
    January 1st, 2011 at 2:24 pm · Link

    What I found so amazing in the end room was the list of survivors who were buried there with their shipmates at their request.

    Such an amazing piece of our history.

  3. Rachel Riddles
    January 1st, 2011 at 4:17 pm · Link

    What beautiful pictures, I can’t even imagine what it’s like to be there in person. Maybe one of these days my hubby and I will take our boys. Glad to hear you had a nice time, and I’m sure it is hard with deadlines and such to get to relax.

  4. Diane Sadler
    January 1st, 2011 at 4:53 pm · Link

    Those are beautiful pictures that represent so much for all of us!

  5. TetVet68
    January 1st, 2011 at 5:29 pm · Link

    Remember Pearl Harbor — Keep America Alert!

    (Now deceased) America’s oldest living Medal of Honor recipient, living his 101st year is former enlisted Chief Petty Officer, Aviation Chief Ordnanceman (ACOM), later wartime commissioned Lieutenant John W. Finn, U. S. Navy (Ret.). He is also the last surviving Medal of Honor, “The Day of Infamy”, Japanese Attack on the Hawaiian Islands, Naval Air Station, Kaneohe Bay, Oahu, Territory of Hawaii, 7 December 1941.

    (Now deceased) ‘Navy Centenarian Sailor’, 103 year old, former enlisted Chief Petty Officer, Aviation Chief Radioman (ACRM, Combat Aircrewman), later wartime commissioned Chief Warrant Officer Julio ‘Jay’ Ereneta, U. S. Navy (Ret.), is a thirty year career veteran of World War One and World War Two. He first flew aircrewman in August 1922; flew rearseat Radioman/Gunner (1920s/1930s) in the tactical air squadrons of the Navy’s first aircraft carriers, USS LANGLEY (CV-1) and USS LEXINGTON (CV-2).

    Visit my photo album tribute to these centenarian veteran shipmates and other Pearl Harbor survivors:



    San Diego, California

  6. Christine
    January 2nd, 2011 at 7:05 am · Link

    I was there also many years ago and was awed by the simplicity of the memorial. It’s a very humbling experience.