After we visited the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum, ate a hotdog at the stand, and quickly ran through the USS Bowfin gift shop, it was time for our Pearl Harbor tour. As we walked to where our tour would begin, we passed by a booth offering a virtual reality tour for the low price of $50. At first, I thought it was silly, because why would you pay $$$ to travel to Hawaii only to see Pearl Harbor from a headset?! Later, it dawned on me that VR would be a good option for people who weren’t able to board the boats due to physical disabilities or a fear of water. Andy pointed out that maybe they were “visiting” Pearl Harbor on that fateful day in 1941 through VR.
Nonetheless, we skipped the VR tour to join the National Park Service’s tour. Our first stop was the movie theater to watch a 30-minute documentary describing the events of Pearl Harbor and its role in World War II. Something that neither Andy nor I ever considered before our visit was Pearl Harbor’s impact on our world– after all, as Americans, we grew up learning the American perspective on the events. As visitors to the site are from all over the world, the NPS documentary also mentioned the “other” perspective, which we both found interesting and informative.
Then it was time for our boat ride to the USS Arizona Memorial. The boats are operated by Navy sailors that are assigned to the USS Arizona detachment. Although being assigned to such a special detachment full of history would be neat, it would probably also be a bit frustrating (if we’ve learned anything from Andy’s assignment in recruiting, it would be that there really are dumb questions, haha.)
We both have seen the USS Arizona Memorial in movies and photos, but it felt surreal seeing it in person. Sadly, some of the people on our tour didn’t understand the reverence of the site; they were taking selfies, which we thought was in poor taste.
Unfortunately, the USS Arizona Memorial was under repair during our visit, so we weren’t able to disembark to pay our respects. Instead, we drove (sailed? cruised? steered? I’m not sure which verb to use, haha!) by the USS Missouri battleship a little bit farther down the harbor. On the opposite side of the harbor, we could see real Naval vessels, which we also found interesting (although we obviously did not get a good look at that.)
It sounds weird to say we “enjoyed” visiting Pearl Harbor, but we appreciated being able to pay our respects to those who were lost that day. Visiting the site made it feel more real, instead just something from we read about in history books. We hope to visit again sometime so that we can visit the USS Arizona Memorial.