Outside of visiting Washington, D.C. and being immersed in our country’s history, the Pearl Harbor area is one of the most emotional experiences an American can have.

With 2016 being the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor, if you want to participate, start making reservations now. It is bound to draw a lot of people to the island and particularly to the museum area.

You cannot take any bag, purse, or backpack on the grounds. Either leave it at your hotel or at their check station for a small fee. The parking lot is not secure, and it is not recommended to leave anything in the vehicle—even the trunk.

Pearl Harbor Welcome

Pearl Harbor Welcome

The Museum takes at least two hours to go through—three if you want to be very thorough and read everything. You can rent headsets that have additional information about specific displays. It’s a good idea for your first visit. The, “If you had been on O’ahu, these faces may have been familiar,” display immediately makes you think of the people on that day.

Because the museum isn’t a timed entry, you can go whenever you want. However, if you want to go to The Arizona, you have to get online reservations (best plan) or wait in line for tickets. Like the Museum, The Arizona is free. The movie and roundtrip take just over an hour.

This trip, we didn’t visit the Bowfin Submarine, but if you want to glimpse submarine life beyond, Run Silent, Run Deep, it’s highly recommended. Keep in mind there are tight staircases that you have to go down facing front. There is also a new Pacific Aviation Museum on Ford Island. There is a fee for entry.

Guided tours of the Mighty Missouri Battleship range from $25 for the General Tour and an additional $25 for the Heart of the Missouri Tour. Stationary or not, make sure you’re prepared to be in the bowels of the ship before signing up for that part. You can purchase these tickets at the Museum and they generally have open times. A bus takes you to/from the Museum area to the dock, which is at Ford Island. The guides, such as Zach, are knowledgeable. He did a great job with the standard 45-minute talk and in answering questions.

The Missouri is famous for a number of reasons, but you might know it as the place where the formal surrender by Japan took place. If you think quarters are tight on the Bowfin, there isn’t much more space in the corridors, or quarters, here.

The Arizona is a five minute or less boat ride across the channel to the Memorial, which sits perpendicular atop the USS Arizona.

This link is a great aerial view of it.

The vintage photo is from what was in place when my Dad was stationed in Hawaii in 1952-54. Construction began on the existing Memorial in 1958. I remember as a small child when we would watch his Hawaiian slides and each time he told us about the Memorial, he would get emotional. Seeing it I now understand.

The Arizona, Pearl Harbor

1952 The Arizona Memorial

There is still oil leaking from the wreckage. Someone volunteered that it continues to be allowed because it is symbolic of the life that leaked away. Whether or not that’s the official position, it’s a touching idea. Approximately 2-9 quarts leak each day and is monitored for environmental impacts.

Arizona, still leaking oil, Pearl Harbor

Arizona, still leaking oil

The Museum, the Bowfin, the Missouri, The Arizona…these are highly impactful things for any patriotic citizen to experience…for any history buff to see first hand. But for me, nothing compared to meeting Delton E. Walling, CSM, USN. He was quietly sitting outside the Museum, a small display by his side and handouts on the table, having his picture taken with anyone who wished. I wanted to thank him for his service, an effort I make when seeing any Veteran wearing a hat telling us where he or she served. My husband snapped this shot and I’m glad that he did.

Delton E. Walling, CSM, US Navy

Delton E. Walling, CSM, US Navy

Mr. Walling: “We’ll all be gone in five years,” were the only sobering words he said. His sheer graciousness was enough to bring me to tears.

Maybe when you go, you’ll be fortunate enough to meet someone who encapsulates the experience for you as he did for me.

 

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