December 7, 1941 – The day that will live in infamy
Today we visited the site of Americas greatest naval defeat- Pearl Harbour. The site is now a National Monument managed by the national parks service.
The site has several individual areas including several museums which explain the road to the war in the pacific. The museums are well presented and provide an excellent high level view of the forces which converged to create this terrible war. Additionally the park also details the events of the day and the decisions which leaf to the awakening of the sleeping giant and the entry of the United States into WW2.
Another area of the park is dedicated to remembering the silent service – the submarine corp. The submariners were a small portion of the American fighting force at around 2% but contributed significantly to sinking many Japanese ships. The park includes the USS Bowfin, a submarine who fought in the war. The Bowfin is very interesting as it gives a very real understanding of what the submariners experienced and how the lived day to day. There is also a museum dedicated to the submarine corp and explains the technology, history and experiences of life in a sub. The museum is fascinating and includes several propaganda posters and battle flags which are developed by reach sub to display the number of enemy vessels they have destroyed of damaged. The park also includes a memorial to each of the submarines lost in the war and honours the souls lost. The memorial is a reminder of the reset of war. Many of the submarines simply disappeared or were sunk by their own malfunctioning weaponry. The area of the park deducted to the silent service does and excellent job of bringing to light the valuable role played by the submarines in WW2.
Another large area of the park is dedicated to the emotional memorial for the USS Arizona. This battleship was bombed with an armour piercing bomb which penetrated several decks to ignite the explosives kept on board. The ship was crippled by a large explosion and then sunk within 9 minutes, killing over 1100 men. The Arizona was never raised and the bulk of her crew are entombed in the ship. A Sombre memorial has been built above the ship, which honours the men lost. The memorial also allows you to view the parts of the ship which sit close the the top of the water and the smell the oil who h still leaks from the Arizona. You cannot view this memorial and not be moved.
This is an amazing national monument that does an effective job of achieving its goal of honouring and understanding the day.
We also visited the “Mighty Mo”. The USS Missouri, where the articles of surrender were signed. The Missouri was the last battleship manufactured as the focus shifted to the building of aircraft carriers. Even so she participated in 3 wars before retiring.
To finish up the day we then visited the Pacific aviation museum and were provided an excellent tour which explained some of the key roles of airplanes in the war. It also has one of only 6 Japanese zero fighters which are still functional.
Overall this was a fascinating and emotional day.
Fun fact of the day: saw the Baskin Robbins (ice cream) where Barrack Obama had his first job.