Hawaii is many people’s dream vacation destination. We imagine beaches, sunshine, surfing, sea turtles, Mai Tais, and flower leis when we think of Hawaii. Each island is different, and parts of Oahu run somewhat contrary to my imagined Hawaii.
Oahu’s major city of Honolulu could easily follow in the steps of New York City and be nicknamed The City That Never Sleeps. Literally!
Thousands of people from all over the world walk the streets of Honolulu, and especially the Waikiki area, all day and long into the night. It is a true melting pot of humanity.
Just not my idea of a dream vacation.
We had only one reason we wanted to spend a little time on Oahu: Pearl Harbor.
I had heard about it, read about it, and even watched the movie about it (starring Ben Affleck). It was the ultimate surprise attack by the Japanese, and although it worked in the short run, America was not to be taken down so easily.
We took a boat tour over to where the USS Arizona was sunk by a torpedo. They cut the top of it off, but left the main hull. It is covered with coral now, and is home to dozens of types of fish and shellfish, as well as three sea turtles. It has become a mini-ecosystem for sea life.
It is eerie to hear that the USS Arizona is “the final resting place for over 900 servicemen”. We were encouraged to keep our tone somber and respectful, as we were standing over a national military cemetery.
Inside the monument is a wall containing all of the names and ranks of each of the servicemen and women who died at Pearl Harbor. In front of the wall are two short planter walls, maybe 24″ tall, with more names.
These are the surviving servicemen who, when they passed away later, had requested and were granted burial with their friends aboard the Arizona.
We weren’t able to take a tour of the USS Missouri, which is moored in Pearl Harbor also and is one of the surviving vessels from that day. I wish we had, because that would have been an education for my boys too.
There are still, as of March 28th according to our Navy guide, 12 surviving servicemen from the USS Arizona, still living.
Gentlemen, we salute you.
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