As I’ve mentioned in the past, I’m a total research nut.  But I have to be honest, the Pearl Harbor website confused me.  It’s hard to grasp what exactly is available if you haven’t seen the location.  After talking with my mom, we decided our only priority for their visit this time was to see the USS Arizona Memorial.  We didn’t know what all that entailed, so we sort of went into our morning blindly.
It turns out that you could spend an entire day at this place – there is a lot to be seen.  I find it odd that the Arizona isn’t even listed on this sign.

There are NO bags allowed inside the memorial.  Not even a fanny pack.  Not that I would wear a fanny pack, but I know someone who would. (I’m looking at you, Roz.)

My dudes.

We walked through the main entrance and then straight back towards the water.  This is the view.

This big ball – a radar I think – is gigantic and easily seen from the interstate.  It looks totally out of place as you’re driving by.

Then there’s this cool plaque near the ground.

To the right, the Bowfin – a submarine.  You can tour it, but we didn’t.  James spent six years on a submarine.  We felt like we’ve toured enough of those.

Oh look.  A random boy!  Oh wait, he’s mine.  And super cute.  I thought those stumps would be a perfect little posing location for all three kids.  But shockingly (or not), I forgot to get that picture later.

I shared this image on Facebook, but I absolutely adore it.  Roz was every bit the tourist during the visit, and this picture captures it perfectly.  She rented the $7.50 audio set so she could learn about the areas of the memorial.

In the center, there are plaques detailing all of those lost on December 7, 1941.  It was pretty powerful.  I had no idea that babies were killed that day.

My mom grabbed snacks, and my uninterested children sat and munched on Cheetos.

I’m not even sure what to call this thing.  It was a map of some sort near the blue plaques.  Very cool because it was a raised rendering of Oahu.  I really should have taken more pull-back shots.  So sorry.

Then we walked back towards the main entrance walkway.

We went to the right and found this “Tree of Life”.

And this super helpful sign.

At that point, we still had no idea how we actually got out to the USS Arizona Memorial.  So we headed back down to the ticket areas.  Apparently, that particular memorial is free, so we just had to secure our tickets.  We did that and headed down to the movie theater to wait for our showtime.  We waited quite a while, but Aidan had fun reading the brochure.

The movie was really really powerful and well-done.  It showed actual footage, and did a good job of depicting the events of that infamous day.  We all stood up and filed out in silence.  After the movie, we headed out to the ferry.

As we were being transported to the floating memorial, we were able to get an up-close view of Ford Island.  I need to do some research, because that place looks beautiful.

They asked us not to stop and take pictures before entering the memorial.  We were reassured that we would have plenty of opportunities when we were done with our self-guided tour.

So admittedly, I knew nothing about this memorial.  It’s not that I don’t care, I just hadn’t done any research.  It turns out that they left the Arizona in its resting place and it remains a tomb for the many sailors who perished in it.  Some parts of the ship can be seen from the surface.  So as you walk around the memorial, you get to see them.

You can also see the oil that still leaks.  2 gallons a day are released I think?

At the end of the memorial is a list of those who died.  Pretty powerful huh?  I was struck by the fact that all of the visitors stayed well behind the rope.  It allowed us all to get a picture of the whole wall.

To the left and right of the main wall, there are more names listed.  I believe these are the survivors who have died in more recent years.

This is a long view of the entire memorial.  It’s quite beautiful actually.

I try hard to get pictures of my kids making awful faces.  But at this particular moment, we were discussing how there were real people resting eternally down there.  It’s sort of hard to wrap my brain around honestly.  As someone who fears being buried in the ground, the idea of being submerged in water isn’t any better.

More views of the outside.

To the right, you can see one of the old mooring stations.  They are painted and labeled with the old ships’ names.  That ship to the left is the USS Missouri (Memorial).  I think I’d like to take a tour of that in the future.

It’s really difficult to explain to your children the magnitude of something like this.  I know that I learned about it in school, but it didn’t really seem as powerful then.  I guess as we get older, it’s easier to understand the loss this community endured.

And there is Roz again listening in on her audio tour.

As we were leaving, we were able to get our promised photos.

And although I didn’t feel it appropriate to take posed pictures on top of a grave site, I did grab some on our ferry ride back.

I’ve never been prouder to be married to a (former) sailor.

Roz grabbed this beautiful image as we were heading back to shore.

And a shot towards the interstate.

Once we were back on land, Austin checked out this bell.

And then got a few minutes with the headphones.

Then we hit the gift shop, and headed home.

I definitely recommend checking out this entire historic site.  We spent three(?) hours there, and we didn’t even see the museums or other memorials.  Make it a whole day and just soak up the history.  I’m looking forward to our return.

2013 Slideshow
Kayaking to The Mokes