Sunday, May 30, 2010

Hawaii's Tribute to Our Veterans

I'm going to take a little blogging license here and skip past the luau we went to on Thursday night in order to post about our visit to Pearl Harbor (because there's very little I love more than a theme, especially a Memorial Day theme).

And I just want to take a second to thank all of the bloggers I follow for not blogging about the oil spill. I'm so consumed with sadness and frustration at all of it, that I just can't bear to read about it, too. Although I know it's there, and oil-drenched pelicans are dying by the minute...I just need a little laughter in my life or I will dissolve into a puddle of tears and that's not beneficial to anyone.

Pearl Harbor is, understandably, a very busy tourist destination in O'ahu. We were told by several people, including Princess Pomtini, that we should hit it early. So, we arrived as early as our relaxed schedule would allow...which was about 9 AM. Even then, there was about a 90 minute wait to enter (not meaning we stood in line for 90 minutes, we just couldn't use our timed ticket until 10:30). But fear not, fellow travelers, they have much to keep you entertained. Pearl Harbor is undergoing an extensive renovation, which should be finished by the end of the year. Thus far, they have redesigned the layout of the park and you no longer have to watch the movie before boarding the boat. It's an option. Americans like options, y'know. And there is fancy schmancy new bookstore that offers everything from $2.00 water to Rosie the Riveter Barbie (which I kind of really wanted because...Yes, We Can!...but yes it would be one more thing to move every 3 years). And we ended up doing the audio tour because, obviously, Neal and I can dig on some history. If there's a tour to be purchased, we're on it. (Unfortunately, the renovation included many of the talking points on the audio tour, so they created a pamphlet with pictures of the exhibits. Not exactly like the real thing, but I guess they at least tried to still provide you with the full experience. Yay for the federal government!)

So, we hit the bookstore. We hit the bathrooms. We hit the hotdog stand.


What is it about the smell of roasting mystery meat that appeals at any time of the day? And a big kudos to Princess Pomtini who is about 20 weeks pregnant and still wanted a hotdog! (Although I do remember craving them during my first trimester and Neal saying "THAT'S not healthy!" Whatever, dude. You grow a human and then we'll talk.)

By the time we had consumed, watched, peed, shopped, and listened, it was time to board the boat.

Princess Pomtini informed us that the sailors were usually in their all-white uniform (*swoooon*) and that she had never seen them in the brown ones. We saw on the news that night that a recently deceased survivor of Pearl Harbor was interred there that morning. Obviously, they needed everyone in white for that ceremony, the others donned brown.

(Notice the flag here because Neal took a wickedawesome shot of the flag from within the memorial that will make no sense if you don't see the big picture first.)

Here's a view from the sky that I borrowed from a blogger named Blonde Champagne (which I stumbled across when doing a Google Images search...but seriously...could they have a cooler blog name? I think I'll follow based solely on blog title alone).

I have the worst time keeping "bow" and "stern" straight (read: I can't remember which part this is, except that it's the part that sticks out of the water).

These underwater shots are hard to see, but that's part of the ship that is visible from within the memorial.

Inside is the wall of names, listing everyone who died in the attack on Pearl Harbor. To the left was a shorter wall that listed those who survived the attack but chose to be buried here.

A picture of where the Arizona was moored on that dark day, and where it is moored still. husband, the artistic photographer.

It's hard to see in this picture (and you can click on it to make it larger), but in the center of the photo, there are 2 tiny drops of oil. According to the audio tour, the USS Arizona continues to seep oil at the rate of about 2 liters per day (and some will argue that this is not true, that it's all a publicity stunt). Although the environmental groups have pushed for capping the leak, many veteran organizations believe it would be tantamount to desecrating a burial site. They refer to these drops of oil that float to the top and then quickly dissipate as "tears of the fallen." Of course, in the wake of the BP disaster, 2 liters a day seems inconsequential. Perspective is a gift and a weapon.

And then there's the wind. Always the wind.

This is looking at the memorial from the museum side. Call us history snobs, but having been on all of the ships in the Inner Harbor in Baltimore, we passed on seeing the USS Missouri, docked to the left of the memorial....

And we passed on the Bowfin, a submarine (not to evoke the phrase, "if you've been on one war ship, you've been on them all," but...)

A Japanese suicide torpedo. They were suicide bombers before it was "cool" to be a suicide bomber.

Stationed at the ticket counter until lunch time were 2 survivors of Pearl Harbor who were volunteering their time, stories, and signatures. And maybe they were selling their books? I can't remember now. But more than anything, it made me miss my Papa and wish he was here to tell me war stories, served with Neopolitan ice cream.

Hawaii, being on that side of the world, gets a lot of Japanese visitors. I asked Princess Pomtini how the Americans in Hawaii, and specifically those working at Pearl Harbor, handle that. She said she thinks it's OK, that we don't hold a grudge and know that the visitors here today are not the same who attacked us yesterday. She thinks there is an attitude of forgiveness and acceptance, even though we, as Americans, can be very stubborn and bitter. It's a hopeful thing to believe, even if it may not be true for everyone.

December 7, 1941 was a bleak day in our nation's history, but the memorial that stands over the USS Arizona is a stark and breathtakingly beautiful way to remember and honor those who sacrificed it all for our country and the freedoms that we take for granted.


  1. I didn't realize how gigantic torpedoes were! Holy cow! Do you know I have never seen shots from the tour before and those remnants in the water are fascinating to me, as well as the drops of oil. I didn't know that, and thinking of them as appropriate.

    Thank you for this wonderful post!

  2. I knew I wouldn't make it through this without crying.. and here I am typing this with tear drenched cheeks. I bet this was amazing to see and witness. What made me lose it you ask? The fact that survivors elected to be buried there with the rest of the crew when they passed. Ugh so poetic and patriotic to me.

    This illustrates the reason for this holiday perfectly. Thank you for sharing this girl! ox

    If you'll excuse me I need to go wipe off my damn mascara stained cheeks - I really need to invest in waterproof stuff!

  3. oh my God, i would have completely missed all this had it not been for your blog post!

  4. Very cool!!! My hubby and I are big history nuts (he moreso than me--he has a BS in history) and he has seen Pearl Harbor. Your pics make me want to see it too!

  5. Allyson, thanks for a great, well-timed post.

  6. This was really great. Thank you!

  7. Oh damn my internet tonight! I just wrote a comment and blogger ate it...I'm pissed. Basically it said: Love your recaps because it makes me feel like I was there too; Neal's rocking the semi-professional photographer thing hardcore; and Kelsey and I are both history nerds and would lvoe to visit this should we ever make it to Hawaii. Then I said that Kelsey won't "let" me have hot dogs because they told me at the doctor to avoid them because of listeria virus. Sads.

  8. Perfect post for today. Happy Memorial Day.

  9. I learned so much this morning! Fabulous post :)

  10. Your pictures and descriptions are so much better than the quick and dirty pieces one sees on TV. I really feel like I got a perspective on both the park and the memorial. And thanks to Neal for that great photo. Hug him for us.

  11. What an amazing post - I want so much to be able to see Pearl Harbor someday. Happy Memorial Day to you!

  12. Perfect tribute...I enjoyed reading this so much. There were so many interesting things here...the tears of oil, the aerial shot (which I have never seen so I wasn't sure why the white memorial was just 'out' in the water), the part about the people in their khakis that day, the part about the people who stand guard each day until 2, those wanting to be buried with their's all so interesting and patriotic...perfect...Thanks :-)

  13. Beautiful post! And somehow, the hot dogs and the excursion seem to go so well together, don't you think? PreCISEly why I left a pretty for you over a my place today. Enjoy!

  14. I just want you to know that my second breakfast of the day has a 98% probability of being a hot dog because of that picture. I like mine the same way.

    Also, I totally get the war ship theory. I went to Charleston once and toured all of the ships there. By the end of the tour I was running through the cabins in the submarine trying to be a sailor and totally failing.

    What a fantastic Memorial Day post. I, too, enjoy past generations speaking of their war experiences. It makes history more real. The pride older generations have for this country makes me want to live in the days of glass soda bottles and daily dresses. It might not have been all Leave It To Beaver, but at least people knew their neighbors and smelled the roses. I love it when you write about history... I always learn something new.

  15. I know you don't want me to bring it up, but I am sad about the oil spill, too. I am from NOLA. We just went there 2 weeks ago for my mom's 60th bday. And I could SMELL it, Allyson. It was horrible. I cry when I see those oil-covered pelicans, too.

    On another note, lovely post, and I so appreciate your coming by and commenting on my post. I have been terrible at catching up w/ people too...

    also, I am heading to Savannah this weekend for a wedding. Where are you?

  16. Wow, thanks again for another incredible history lesson! Not that I didn't know about Pearl Harbor before, just that I didn't know all the detail. And I'm glad I can look to you to fill me in.

    Poignant and touching for the Memorial Weekend.

  17. Great pics and perspective :)

  18. Sounds like a day/trip you won't soon forget! Hope you had a great holiday weekend together :)

  19. Aw. I just now read this post and I like it.

    And those hot dogs look good. :)



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