gsp Thoughts From A Diva: Pearl Harbor

Thoughts From A Diva

Random images and thoughts from a misplaced Minnesota Diva trying to survive in Wisconsin.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Pearl Harbor

66 years ago today, the Hawaiian Islands were bombed by the Japanese.

When we were in Hawaii a few weeks ago, Meg and I went to the Memorial. What an overwhelming experience. I will never forget that visit and I highly recommend that you all go.

The Memorial is free to the public.

When we first arrived, we went into the open-air museum and looked at the pictures and models of the ships that were sank that day. Outside of the museum, on the ocean side, there are plaques and information boards set up to tell the story of how it happened. I could feel the tears sliding down my face as we followed the timeline of the attack.

At the end of the walk, there is a circle of plaques around an American Flag on a pole. These plaques list every military and civilian casualty of the attack. I was amazed to discover that there were several small infants killed and a number of children. The youngest age I saw was three months old. I had never given much thought to the civilian deaths, so this really shook me.

After we had looked and read at all the information outside, we went inside to the theater. After we had all been seated, an older man came to the front of the room. He told us his name and then explained that he had been nine years old the day of the attack. He also told us he lived next to Wheeler Air Field. He watched as planes blew up the planes on the runway and that his next door neighbor had been killed in the attack. It was very moving and very poignant.

After he spoke, we were showed a twenty minute film on the history of what lead to the attack and then of the attack itself. It was interesting to see this film because it showed it with no bias against the Japanese. It was very straight-forward and did not try and pull at heart-strings by showing good guys/bad guys. It just told the facts of what happened.

We then moved out onto a small boat that took us across the inlet to the USS Arizona Memorial. It brings tears to my eyes just thinking of the place.

The Memorial itself is very white and stands out against the dark background of the island. When you first pull up to the Memorial on the boat, it seems extremely large, but once you enter, you realize it really isn't that big. As I entered the Memorial, I noticed right away how quiet it was: there are no man-made sounds. There were no televisions blaring at us, no music over loudspeakers and no presentations being made. You are allowed to simply walk around and feel your surroundings. Even the other people that are there seem to simply fade into the background.

As you walk through the building, you see out both sides of the Memorial; it is open-sided and the breezes flow through easily. If you stand and look down at the water, you can see oil from the ship rising to the water and you can smell the oil and fuel. Even 66 years later, the smell is intense.

At the far end of the Memorial is a separate room listing all of the men killed on the USS Arizona that day. They have them separated between Marines and Sailors. That was a very somber room and many people stood and wept silently for those lost.

There is a small partial wall about five feet out from the wall of names. On the lower left hand side of that wall is another list of names. These are the names of the men who served on the USS Arizona on that fateful day who have since died and wished to be buried with their comrades. Some of the deaths were within the last few years: even after 66 years, the bond of what they experienced that day has not diminished.

On the way over to the Memorial, people on the boat had been laughing and enjoying the ride. On the way back, the mood was somber and quiet. As people got off the boat, they stayed quiet, almost like mourning. Even Meg had felt the powerful presence on the Memorial.

If you ever have chance, you should go. It is an amazing experience; not just in memorium of WWII, but for all wars and all those who have died for our country.


At 12/08/2007 7:16 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

... beautiful post.. I am glad that you had a chance to visit that memorial...


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