On our third day in Honolulu, we woke up early, got ready, and headed to our favorite coffee shop. We grabbed some food to go, got our rental car, and GPS'ed our way to Pearl Harbor. From the moment I knew we were going to Hawaii, I wanted to visit Pearl Harbor. I don't think you can go to Hawaii and not visit out of respect. The gates open and it's first come, first serve and we were in the second group of the day to visit the USS Arizona.
While we waited, we walked through the many exhibits they had available. They had a room with pictures and stories leading up to the night before Pearl Harbor. One of the stories was about a dance competition one of the boats was holding the night before. Can you imagine being excited about something like that and having no idea how your life will change in just a few hours?
The next room was about the attack on Pearl Harbor, the people behind it, how it was planned, etc. It was a very eye-opening experience to see how involved this attack was. It puts 9/11 in to a lot of perspective.
The last room was full of pictures from that day, paraphernalia that was recovered, and stories from survivors. One thing there that hit close to home for me was a nurses cape. I can't imagine having to line up body after body and take care of people while being terrified.
Before we could go to the USS Arizona, we had to watch a film about the USS Arizona and how important it is to be respectful. It told some stories that we had read in the rooms and made it become more "real" to those of us visiting. People's family members are buried there and it's an important piece of history. Once the video was over we all climbed into a boat and it took us to the memorial.
After we toured the USS Arizona memorial, we went aboard the USS Bowfin, the submarine. That is such a huge piece of equipment! There is no way I would survive living in one of those things. To know that I am UNDER the ocean with no way to escape, small beds, small ceilings, and small doors....I'm a small person and I still felt claustrophobic in there! It was such a neat experience, though!
Once we were done on the submarine, we got on a bus and drove to the USS Missouri. Now that is a ship. Each piece of chain on the boat weighed 115 pounds. One piece! This was like a little city on the water. We saw the kitchen, the bar, the dining rooms. We saw the library, the captain's quarters- which had a dial tv ;) and some sweet orange leather couches. The really cool part about being on the USS Missouri was watching all of the military men who were visiting. They were just telling so many stories about their time on ships and you could tell it meant a lot to them.
The last tour we took at Pearl Harbor was of the Hangars. The first wave of attacks on Pearl Harbor took place on the air fields to immobilize the U.S. defense. If they had no planes to fly, they couldn't attack from the air. Then they went after the battleships.
Pearl Harbor was a humbling experience for us. Just like with 9/11, there were "warning signs" that weren't followed through with and some that were ignored. I suppose the saying "history repeats itself" applies here. They are obviously not one in the same, but the similarities are interesting. Perhaps the most interesting is how Americans banded together...just like with 9/11. I can't do Pearl Harbor justice, I've left out many important details from that day so if you'd like a more in depth timeline without reading too much, here is a website with a great timeline. And if you ever visit Oahu, you'll definitely want to visit for yourself!
Pearl Harbor was close to an all-day thing for us, so when we got back we took a short rest, showered, and got ready for dinner. We had reservations at Roy's where I had the most delicious steak I have ever had in my life. It was infused with so many different Hawaiian flavors, it was absolutely mouth watering. I think I've mentioned before that we tried to get pictures before dinner every night. :)
On another note, on Live with Kelly the other day, they were listing off the happiest cities in the U.S. The happiest? Honolulu, HI :) I completely understand.