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.
At 9:30 IN THE MORNING.
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.
Ahhh...my 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.