Remember Pearl Harbor
Today was my last day on O’ahu, and we headed to Pearl Harbor for the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument. This monument makes up three monuments in Hawai’i, California, and Alaska. It is run by the National Park Service.
On December 7, 1941, Japan attacked the US Pacific fleet in Pearl Harbor, claiming 2,388 military and civilian lives, 21 vessels, and 170 planes. As well as triggering the US involvement into WWII. The Japanese force sailed undetected for 4,000 miles and accomplished a complete surprise attach, and pulling the U.S. into the deadliest, most globally extensive war in history.
Of the 21 vessels, all were eventually recovered and repaired for further duty except three vessels: the USS Arizona, Utah, and Oklahoma. In less than 9 minutes the USS Arizona sank with 1,177 crew members after the ship exploded during the First Wave. After more than seven decades resting in the shallow waters, the ship is estimated to still contain about 400,000 gallons of petrol of the original 1.5 million gallons the ship would have contained when struck. About 2 gallons of petrol leak out each day. The USS Arizona burned for three days after the attack. The USS Oklahoma honors 429 sailors who died when the ship capsized. And the USS Utah commemorates its 58 dead. The monument is also home to the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum.
I have to mention this, because it is important to remember all aspects of war. I thought the Pearl Harbor Historic Sites were preserved in the best taste. A true memorial to the lives lost, the honor and valor displayed, a humble place to stand. They included a lot of history, gave voices to those lost. But I wish more was said about how Pearl Harbor ignited a horrendous response of fear and hatred towards American citizens of Japanese ancestry. Japanese-American internment is an often looked-over consequence of WWII in American history. Over 120,000 people, men, women, and children, were forced into incarceration camps without due process, all their belongings, businesses, and assets confiscated. This was a matter of extreme racism. About one-third of the population of Hawai’i was of Japanese ancestry, some 200,000 people, and about 1,500 of those residents were forced into internment. In the mainland U.S., nearly every single person of Japanese ancestry was relocated from their West Coast homes. Let’s not forget how easily fear and hate caused our country to reflect atrocities taking place in Europe at the same time. “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” George Santayana.
After that somber and historical visit, we went downtown and walked among all the historic and government buildings. We stumbled upon the 11th annual celebration for the 179th birthday of Queen Lili’uokalani at the ‘Iolani Palace Grounds. We caught the Ku’uipo Kumukahi, the Hawaiian Music Hall Serenaders, and Halau Hawai’i performing. We gathered fishings for a sushi supper, my last O’ahu feast.
My last night on O’ahu. I have had a great time visiting Jack and Libby! I look forward to more trips in the future to the other islands so I can return and explore other parts of O’ahu. Three things for sure on that list are: 1) hike up Ka’ala, the highest peak on O’ahu; 2) visit the USS Missouri Museum on Ford Island; and 3) hike to Ka’au Crater.
After wandering around “Town,” as Honolulu is referred to, we stopped by a few markets for sushi ingredients. We made our own rolls for supper and enjoyed them on the balcony. We played cards into the evening and ate cookies with ice cream for dessert. My last supper and last evening in Honolulu. The past few days have been a blast, and I can’t wait to head over to Hawai’i Island, or Big Island tomorrow morning.