The Pearl Harbor Historic Sites is one of the top must-see places in Hawaii. Located in central O'ahu, about 30 minutes from Waikiki, Pearl Harbor was attacked by Japan in World War II on December 7, 1941.
There are five memorials within the Pearl Harbor Historical Sites which include USS Arizona Memorial, Battleship Missouri Memorial, USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park, Pacific Aviation Museum and USS Oklahoma Memorial. Visitors can easily spend the entire day here to visit all the memorials. Due to time constraint, my family and I only visited a few of them.
USS Arizona Memorial
USS Arizona Memorial aeriel view, Source: Wikipedia
Upon arrival at the site, we visited the USS Arizona Memorial. The approximately 75 minute tour started off with a National Park Service movie featuring the history of the attack by Japan followed by a boat ride to the memorial.
The USS Arizona battleship was hit by bomb on the fateful day of December 7, 1941 at 8.06am. The attack killed 1,177 crewmen and left many badly wounded. It had also resulted in the massive battleship to sink in a few minutes. After the short movie, we were then taken to the memorial by boat. Built in the form of a floating bridge above the sunken ship wreckage, the memorial can be seen from a far along with the United States flag.
Touring of the memorial is self-guided. The atmosphere inside the memorial remained very quiet and solemn despite a big crowd of about 200 visitors. There are three main sections to this memorial - entry, assembly and shrine. The central assembly room features seven large open windows/ceiling to commemorate the date of the attack and a total of 21 windows which were apparently a symbolic representation of a 21 gun salute (Source of reference: Wikipedia)
Top: Entrance of USS Arizona Memorial, Bottom: The Marble Shrine
By overlooking the windows from the memorial building, you can still see part of the sunken ship. The oil leakage from the sunken ship can still be seen on the surface of the water even until today. It is being closely monitored by the National Park Services to preserve this historical site while protecting the environment.
After the memorial tour, we took the boat ride back to the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center. Here, we visited two museums where we learned interesting facts and stories about the Pearl Harbor Attack and World War II. There are many interesting exhibits and displays around the museums such as the anchor of the Arizona battleship and ship's bell.
Although admission to the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center and the USS Arizona Memorial is free, it is advisable to book the tickets online a few weeks before visiting. There's a small fee applicable for online booking, however, a small amount of walk-in tickets are also available daily but based on first come first served basis.
Before leaving Pearl Harbor Historic Sites, we walked around the Waterfront Memorial and the surrounding park. It was indeed a one-of -a-kind experience to see Pearl Harbor with my eyes and learned more about the history.
Whether or not you are a history buff, it is still a worthwhile experience to visit this historical landmark.