On our trip to Oahu in late December of 2016, we were able to see the USS Arizona Memorial and pay respect to those lives lost on Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941. It was so surreal and an experience that I will never forget. Although it almost didn’t happen, and our visit had to be rescheduled. Obama and the Prime Minister were touring the memorial the same day as we were scheduled. Just our luck, lol. But it worked out and we were able to visit the day before.
The memorial was dedicated May 30, 1962, and marks the resting place of 1,102 of the 1,177 sailors and Marines killed on the USS Arizona (BB-39) during the Japanese surprise attack on that horrible day in 1941. Today Pearl Harbor is visited by more than two million people. So many people who wanting to come and pay respect to those whose lives were taken and touched that day. Others come to learn a little bit more about what conspired to lead to such a senseless attack.
I knew some of this history but it was quite different being there, especially seeing it with my Japanese-American husband. I felt sad, angry, and a little bit annoyed. He had mixed feelings as well, being that some of his family had been detained for weeks after the attacks. I can’t imagine what was going through his mind. It definitely affected both of us.
After we picked up our tickets, we started our tour in the exhibit galleries named: “Road to War” and “Attack”. These two exhibit galleries bring visitors closer to the sights and sounds of the events leading up to the attack on Oahu and its aftermath. These galleries display personal memorabilia, dramatic photographs, artifacts of the battle, and other exhibits. Kiosks are available to hear history from those who witnessed it. Some of these panels make me sick and angry. Especially the ones about Yamamoto and his plan to attack Pearl Harbor. I am not this way usually, but I wanted to spit on every one of the pictures with him in it or gouge out his eyes. I know it’s stupid and childish, but that was how I was feeling. Since I have written this the stupid Wuhan virus has attached us and I want to do WAY WORSE to pathetic XI. Read my post about the truth of covid and what a horrible and visious person he is :(. But that’s another issue, so I will move on.
We eventually made it to the theater where we officially started our tour. We set and watched a 23 min documentary with more information about the attack that wasn’t in the galleries. It was very sad and I couldn’t help but imagine what it was like on that day for all the people of Hawaii. I have a cousin serving at Pearl Harbor so it made it even more real for me. After the documentary was over, we all got on a boat which took us out (it is quite a distance from the main buildings) to the actual memorial site. Not surprisingly, everyone was quiet and thinking during the short ride. At least I don’t remember a lot of chatter.
Once we arrived we were able to walk around and see what is left of the USS Arizona and how big it really was. We only had about 10-15 minutes but tried to see as much as we could in that short amount of time. Before we visited, I had heard that there was still oil bubbling up from the ship. Thus, was interested to see if it was still happening. I can definitely say yes it is still bubbling oil. I still find it hard to believe it’s still leaking 75 years later. Crazy.
The most impressive thing was the memorial wall with the name of all those who lost their lives that day. It made it even more surreal than it already was. I said a quick prayer and we headed back to the boat. We took a few pictures of the USS Arizona memorial from across the water and walked around a little bit.
While walking around we visited the Remembrance Circle which pays tribute to the men, women, and children, both military and civilian, who were killed as a result of the attack on December 7, 1941. Medal of Honor recipients is noted with their names listed in gold lettering. A bronze 3-D map of Oahu illustrates the various attack targets of that day. It was very well done. Hope you enjoyed our visit and experience of the USS Arizona Memorial. If you want to visit, it is imperative that you make reservations as soon as possible. Here is a link to their website with information and instructions.
Here is also some basic information to know before visiting:
Programs to the USS Arizona Memorial run about 1 hour and 15 minutes, and include:
- A 23-minute documentary film in our Pearl Harbor Visitor Center theater
- A boat ride to the memorial
- Fifteen minutes at the memorial
- A boat ride back to the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center
USS Arizona Visitor Information
Pearl Harbor National Memorial
1 Arizona Memorial Place
Honolulu, HI 96818
Daily 7 am – 5 pm
Travel from Waikiki and Downtown Honolulu
Honolulu is a large metropolitan area. Please plan for traffic. The Pearl Harbor Visitor Center is approximately a 45-minute drive from Waikiki. Take Ala Moana Blvd./Nimitz Highway or H-1 West to begin. While on H-1, look for exit 15A, marked “Arizona Mem./Stadium”.
Note: Do not take the “Hickam AFB / Pearl Harbor” exit. This will take you to the active military base, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, not to the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center.
Once you take exit 15A, continue on HI-99 (Kamehameha Highway) and turn left at the 4th traffic light onto Arizona Memorial Place. At the base of the hill, turn right to find parking in one of our available lots. Please park before unloading.
Travel from West Oahu – Ewa, Kapolei, Waianae
Take H-1 East to begin. Take exit 13A toward Aiea onto Moanalua Road; stay in the far right lane and take the “Stadium/Aiea” exit. Continue on Moanalua Road and turn left at the first stoplight onto HI-99 East (Kamehameha Highway). Continue on HI-99 (Kamehameha Highway) and turn right onto Arizona Memorial Place. At the base of the hill, turn right to find parking in one of our available lots. Please park before unloading.
Travel from East Oahu – Kaneohe, Kailua
Take H-3 West. Take exit 1C towards Halawa/Camp Smith/Aiea/Stadium, then turn left on Kahuapaani Street. Follow signs for Stadium/Honolulu. Turn right on Salt Lake Blvd. Continue following signs for Stadium. Turn left on HI-99 East (Kamehameha Highway). Continue on HI-99 (Kamehameha Highway) and turn right onto Arizona Memorial Place. At the base of the hill, turn right to find parking in one of our available lots. Please park before unloading.
Travel from North Oahu – North Shore, Haleiwa
Start on HI-99 and continue on HI-80. Continue on HI-99 South. Take H-2 South toward Honolulu. Head toward Honolulu and take exit 1A onto H-1 East. Take exit 13A toward Aiea onto Moanalua Road; stay in the far right lane and take the “Stadium/Aiea” exit. Continue on Moanalua Road and turn left at first stoplight onto HI-99 East (Kamehameha Highway). Continue on HI-99 (Kamehameha Highway) and turn right onto Arizona Memorial Place. At the base of the hill, turn right to find parking in one of our available lots. Please park before unloading.
To and from the Honolulu International Airport
The airport is only a 10-15 minute drive from the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center, depending on traffic.To get to the airport from the visitor center, take a right on HI-99 (Kamehameha Highway) and go straight through the traffic lights until you see the signs for “92 Airport” and H-1 East. Either option will take you right to the airport. On H-1 East, take the first exit (labeled airport) and follow the signs accordingly. On Nimitz, go straight through the lights until you see the sign for Honolulu International Airport, then take a right and follow the signs accordingly.
To get to the visitor center from the airport, take either H1-West or HI-92 West. Keep left and follow the signs to “HI-99 W/Arizona Mem. Stadium” to merge onto HI-99 W (Kamehameha Highway). Continue on HI-99 and turn left at the 4th traffic light onto Arizona Memorial Place. At the base of the hill, turn right to find parking in one of our available lots. Please park before unloading.
Honolulu public transit buses stop regularly at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center and can be boarded in Waikiki. The #20 and #42 bus will take you to the visitor center. For more information about the Oahu transit system, visit www.thebus.org.
Looking for fun things to do in Hawaii, check out my post Ala Moana Shopping Center.
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