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Monday, May 25, 2020
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A Visit to Pearl Harbor

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USS Missouri


     I returned last week from a two week traveling adventure to the islands of Hawaii. This vacation was part of a celebration of the 50 year wedding anniversary for my wife and I. We planned a vacation almost a year ago, and selected a number of locations that we wanted to see while traveling so far from home. Among those locations were the recently active Volcanoes National Park and the Polynesian Cultural Center.


     It was always presumed that we would also visit historic Pearl Harbor in Honolulu. Our visit to Pearl Harbor took place on the third day of our vacation. It was a beautiful Thursday with little white puffy clouds in sunny skies. We traveled there early in the day anticipating that there might be large crowds. We arrived at around 9 AM, early enough that we had no difficulty finding a place in the parking lot nearby. We had previously purchased tickets for part of the attraction. Tickets to the US S Arizona are free but are limited to certain times of the day.


     There are three small museums at the visitor center, and we visited all three. Of the historical narrative that is showing there, I found the original copy of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s declaration of war (Day of Infamy) to the U.S. Congress to be of greatest interest for me. The brief one-page speech with pencil corrections is an amazing historical document. I could almost feel President Roosevelt's thoughts and emotions as he attempted to convey to congress the horrific events of the previous day.


     Before actually visiting the USS Arizona Memorial, visitors are allowed to view a 20 minute video of the attack on Pearl Harbor using real footage. It was noticeable how noisy the crowd was while entering the theater. However, after the film had ended, and we made our way out of the theater to the boat that would transport us to the memorial site, something had changed about the countenance of the people. They were silent and respectful of where the boat was headed. As the memorial itself is closed due to a crack in the foundation, we only circled the memorial while remaining on the boat. The crowd remained hushed and subdued for the duration of the ride. Once we returned to the dock the volume of noise resumed as it had been before viewing the movie.


     My daughter, who came along with her family, noted that just a few hundred yards from the wreck of the USS Arizona is docked the USS Missouri. She commented that for her and our grandchildren who accompanied us it was a special privilege to view the site of America’s entry into World War II as well as the site of the end of the war all in the same day.


     After visiting the USS Arizona we went to the USS Missouri and saw the place where the Japanese signed the surrender documents to the allied forces. It was a most interesting moment in time. I am impressed that my daughter and son in law were so moved by the events of that Thursday. It seems somehow that days in infamy can still live on today. What a special memory it will be.