Mark and Annie graciously took me to Pearl Harbor while in Honolulu and that meant getting up at 5am (gasp!!!) and going down to get in line at 6am to beat the hotel buses. It's a pretty good National Park, and you get to go for free and so I definitely recommend it. The video they show is downright diplomatic (Mark would later tell me that we paid big bucks to make sure that nobody could possibly be offended by the narrative), however due to the sheer volume of Japanese tourists, I thought we could have sprung for some Japaneses subtitles, jeez.
There is a lovely monument to the 1100+ naval officers who died on the USS Arizona, still submerged in the bay. It's built atop and does not touch the actual vessel, to show respect to the men who died there. You have to take a boat to see it.
You can't see it in these photos, but the water has an oily residue on the top and that's from the 1.5 million gallons of oil that was on the boat when it sank. .5 million gallons burned up immediately, another .5 million gallons burned up over the two days that the boat was on fire, and a remaining .5 million gallons is trapped below. It is seeping into the harbor at a rate of 1.5 gallons per day and has been for 70 years. They have made the decision not to remove the remaining oil because it's seeping so slowly, there is plenty of marine life on and around the sunken vessel, and they don't want to mess with the final resting place of 1100+ people. (Remember to never believe my statistics! In fact, when I first typed this, I put 150 million gallons but that didn't seem right...)
Inside the memorial is a beautiful stone-carved list of all the men who died. There are 23 sets of brothers here and one father-son. There were 335 survivors. Some survivors have opted to have their remains sent here so they can rest with their fellow crewmen. And so they have a ceremony where a diver takes their remains down to the vessel to insert them into a crack. Of the entire sad sad sad tour, it was that statement that made me cry.
While we visited Pearl Harbor, we paid another $25 to tour the USS Missouri, or the Mighty Mo':
A one-pigeon patriotic parade:
The most interesting thing about this vessel is that WWII ended on it, basically, when the Japanese surrendered in Tokyo Bay. The second-most interesting thing about this boat (in my opinion) is that it was still in use during the Iraq war in the 1990's. The third-most interesting thing about this boat (in my opinion) is that nobody ever died on it. The forth-most interesting thing (in my opinion) is that my friend Mark from high school was hired to be a Mighty Mo' tour guide two-and-a-half years ago and has yet to begin working. They told him he had the job but he had to wait until somebody quit. And nobody quits. In Hawaii, the job search is daunting and just because you get hired doesn't necessarily mean you'll be working, I guess. Get a mainlander who recently expatriated (ha) to explain it to you.
And a very not interesting thing at all is that they want all current visitors to go down the ladders backward and I can't do that so I had to disobey the rules and all the mainlander tourist grandmas who reprimanded me at each ladder "YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO GO DOWN BACKWARD!" and I always follow the rules but I had to be rebellious and say "I cannot do it, ma'am," every time, because I live in a loft bedroom at my parents' house and I have to go down that one forward too, even though my dad yells at me every time.