I know this is becoming the never-ending vacation story…Please bear with me. I’m following the writing adage “Tell your story once, and tell it on paper.” And you know that is old wisdom as it uses the antiquated term – paper.
Or maybe I’m following the newer adage from the Food Safety Industry – “If it isn’t written down, it didn’t happen.”
Either way, I want to record for posterity the story of my favorite vacation…There are some other activities we enjoyed besides all the beach time in Makaha.
Being a former homeschooling mom, I felt it only proper that we include a field trip in our vacation time. Fortunately, all the kids enjoy history, and since I didn’t tell them it was a field trip, they were happy to give a day to touring the USS Missouri and visiting the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor.
(Some kind of ceremony was being conducted under the big guns...wish we could have known what it was about...)
I booked the guys on the Heart of the Missouri guided tour. They were able to go below decks to the engine rooms and learn about the systems that propel the Mighty Mo. They were also able to go inside the gun turrets, and learn how they fire a 2700lb. projectile 23 miles with pinpoint accuracy. They got to see parts of the ship that are not available to the rest of the visitors.
Doubting that we girls would be able to appreciate the “mechanics of an Iowa class battleship”, I booked an historic tour for us. We enjoyed seeing the spot where the Japanese surrender was signed, and learning about the retrofit of the Mighty Mo for its participation in Desert Storm…We were shocked at the tiny space allotted to each sailor’s accommodations, and admiring of the discomforts they endured in the service of our country. (Air conditioning wasn’t added to the ship until its Desert Storm retrofit!)
A little bonus -- our tour was shorter, so we had time to shop for souvenirs, and eat a shave ice before the guys returned.
Then, it was back on the bus to return to the USS Arizona Memorial, World War II Valor in the Pacific facility. We had a little bit of time to look around the new buildings before our appointment to ride the launch out to the memorial. The National Parks Service has upgraded the facilities quite extensively. The displays are divided into different, and larger, buildings, each titled with the subject: “Road to War”; “Attack”, etc. This allows people to move more easily, see more of the displays, and learn more.
The ride on the launch out to the Memorial is always striking…The gleaming white Memorial, the remembrance of the beginning of The War, and the Mighty Mo, towering over it in the background, the remembrance of The War’s end.
The Memorial itself is so beautiful, and so solemn…the long list of names…So many young men – younger than my boys – who rest there. We do not remember well enough the price paid for our freedom.
After our visit to the launch, we returned to tour more buildings, and found ourselves stopped at the video displays of survivors recounting the experiences of the date that lives in infamy. Indeed, they are heroes.
We finished out our visit with protracted perusal of the bookstore. Oh my! What a treasure trove of history! Being a former homeschooling mom, I encouraged continued learning by telling the kids to pick out a book and I would buy it…and borrow it later.
I couldn’t take our kids to Hawaii without making sure they visited the place where such a significant part of our history occurred. There’s just something about standing at Pearl Harbor, and looking to the mountains imagining those Japanese planes coming toward you…Seeing the watery grave of the heroes of that day…The date that will live in infamy happened right here, with real people, with civilians living all around, fearing that the war would engulf their islands…
To my mind, it’s always good to make history live. It helps us to avoid repeating the mistakes of our ancestors, and hopefully, live in such a way as to inspire our descendants.
It was my dream come true to visit Pearl Harbor with my kids!