September 18, 2009

Day 10 Hawaii - Pearl Harbor

Day 10 Our last day! So sad!! But it was a great day. We started early: 6:00am because we had lots to do! You know, I couldn't bring my family all the way to Hawaii and not visit Oahu with Pearl Harbor and the Polynesian Cultural Center. They are such a large part of the Hawaiin history and culture. And you know me, I can't take my family on a trip without making it, not only super fun, but also educational and inspirational. Well, that's the plan anyway. It seems to be working so far. So we loved the PCC on Friday and today we visited Pearl Harbor!

In the early, peaceful morning hours of Sunday, Decemeber 7, 1941 two waves of Japanese aircraft (360 planes total) unexpectedly dropped out of the sky and attacked every major military post on Oahu.
The surprise attack devastated the U.S. Pacific Fleet. Approx 2400 Americans were killed while only 55 Japanese died! Amazing.

That fateful Sunday morning became, just as President Roosevelt said, "A date which will live in infamy!"

Before we left for our trip we watched the movie "Pearl Harbor". It is a big Hollywood love story, but it covers that day very well, and the events leading up to it and the horrific days that followed. The scenes of the actual attack: the bombs, the ships sinking, the men dying, men getting trapped in the ships below, the explosions and fire and screaming... It is heartwrenching to watch and really made the events real for Jaren & Michelle. Then as part of the tour we watched another film that morning.

It is, indeed, very sobering to stand on the USS Arizona Memorial and see the great ship below ~ how old it is, rusted and covered with algae and sea barnacles. We stared into the water at the ship, and images of that day, what happened, what it must have been like flood my mind and my heart aches and tears filled my eyes. It is like being at Ground Zero in NYC. A different generation, but the same sad, yet patriotic, feelings well up inside of me.

While at Pearl Harbor we also toured the still afloat, just recently retired, grand USS Missouri ~ affectionately known as the "Mighty Mo". It was the last battleship built by the U.S. and the last one in use (by any nation). She was used during WWII and last used during the Gulf War.

Our guide was fantastic! He told us so many fun and fascinating stories about this ship. There isn't room to share them all. But he told us how it was a junior senator from Missouri who was selected to christen the ship: that man being Harry S. Trumen, who then gave the honor to his young teenage daughter. Then by an amazing turn of events: Trumen was chosen as Pres. Roosevelt's running mate, then just months after the election Roosevelt died, making Trumen the new President of the United States... WWII was ending and the new, Pres. Trumen, head of the Allied Forces, was to choose where the Official Ceremony would take place for the Japanese surrender. Where did he choose? His ship, his daughter's ship: the USS Missouri, of course! How cool is that?

On and on... once while visiting the ship with his wife and daughter he wanted "no special treatment". So, much to the dismay of the kitchen staff who had planned, bought and prepared special food for him, he went down below decks to the mess hall with the rest of the sailors. He, his wife & daughter stood in line. One sailor told them to cut to the front. Pres. Trumen said "I've never cut in line before in my life! I'm not going to start now." So the food line in the mess hall on the USS Missouri is called the "Trumen Line."

I guess the coolest thing about this ship is that it is the place where they had the Official Ceremony: with all the the world leaders, all the Allied Forces and the Japanese leaders signed the documents for Japan to surrender ~ ending WWII.

We stood on the very deck where this momentous, historical event took place. We walked down the very stairs General Douglas Mac Authur stepped down to greet the Japanese. We saw the very pen he used to sign the documents.

These Memorials made us so thankful for a country that believes in peace and liberty. A country willing to defend people's peace and liberty. We are thankful for men and women willing to fight for peace and liberty where ever they may need to do so. It was all the more meaningful having just visited the USS Arizona. We went from the beginning, or the beginning of what brought the U.S. into the war to the end of it.

MacAuthur's words at the Ceremony were powerful: "It is my earnest hope ~ indeed the hope of all mankind~ that from this solemn occasion a better world shall emerge out of the blood and carnage of the past. A world founded upon faith and understanding, a world dedicated to the dignity of man and the fulfillment of his most cherished wish for freedom, tolerance and justice."

Then we left for one last early dinner at a restaurant on the water at the "Aloha" Tower in Waikiki Beach... one last delicious, juicy Kulua Pork sandwich... one last look at the brilliant blue water of Hawaii... one last gentle cool breeze...
We arrived home at midnight. We are so thankful for such a wonderful opportunity to go on such a fun trip. These will be fun & exciting memories that we will keep forever. We are truly blessed.



  1. wow mom, after looking through all those i feel like i don't even need to go to hawaii! :) thanks for sharing.

  2. What a great trip!!! Wish we could get there.