Be it Norfolk, Portsmouth, or Vladivostok, the naval base is a nerve center for ships and sailors. They have been built and rebuilt many times over. Their berths have seen every type of vessel, from the ironclad to the guided-missile cruiser. But some naval bases have also weathered ferocious attacks in the history of war. Pearl Harbor is one of those places.
I was lucky enough to visit Pearl Harbor several years ago. Museum staff at the USS Arizona Memorial do a grand job of presenting the conditions of the December 7, 1941 raid by Japanese warplanes on a surprised fleet. You will hear many stories from the battle: Yamamoto’s strategy, the daring of Japanese pilots, the struggle of American sailors to fight back, and the push of some ships to escape the harbor. Since the late 1940s, Americans have paid homage to the site. In 1961, initiatives and donations led to the construction of a 184 foot-long Memorial over the sunken remains of USS Arizona. This a shrine to the honored dead, a sort of rampart to guard a mighty battleship and the many sailors buried within. I provided some details on the battleship in a previous post. The National Park Service also offers this note on the Arizona‘s continued importance:
The majority of the USS Arizona’s crew went down with the ship; however, 337 crew members survived. Today, interments for deceased USS Arizona survivors are conducted on the ship. Over 25 interments have been conducted on the USS Arizona.
USS Missouri, one of the most famous battle wagons in naval history, also guards the sunken wrecks at Pearl Harbor. There is also the Pacific Air Museum on the 441-acre Ford Island with an impressive collection and the historic hangars that survived the battle. These are all sites you won’t want to miss. I strongly advise any tourist to dress and behave respectfully around Pearl Harbor.
Honor is due to those who fought and those who have fallen. It is appropriate that the adjacent base at Pearl Harbor continues to serve the U.S. Pacific Fleet. To visit such a place is to remember, and nothing is more important than this.