The All-Encompassing Pearl Harbor Experience


By: Mark Loproto

There are many ways you can brush up on your Pearl Harbor history. You can try to find old television specials, pick up published accounts, visit dedicated web sites and social media groups. Or, you can actually visit the site of the shocking Japanese attack. On December 7th, 1941, at approximately 0800 hours, the history of Pearl Harbor was changed forever, and much of that history has been frozen in time at the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument.

This monument, administered by the US National Park Service, is an all-encompassing journey back to 1941, where you can hear about the devastation and relive the panic of the crewmen aboard battleships including the USS Oklahoma and the now-iconic USS Missouri. Through exhibits and artifacts, find yourself transported back in time to the moment the first shell hit the USS Arizona.

A Journey to the Past

Step inside the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center to begin your journey. Here, exhibits about the events of December 7, 1941 serve as an introduction to Pearl Harbor and the Japanese attacks. Artifacts and memorabilia make you feel like you’ve stepped through a portal back to that time.

A 23-minute film chronicles the day of the attack from the first strikes to when the smoke finally cleared. Your true look into the destruction and devastation left behind by the Japanese happens when you leave the Visitor Center and take a US Navy shuttle boat to a beautiful memorial in the middle of the harbor.

USS Arizona Memorial

Pearl Harbor’s most somber element, the USS Arizona Memorial was constructed over the wreckage of the mighty battleship. The memorial is a powerful reminder of the ruin that the Japanese left behind, but it’s also a symbol of the America’s deep patriotism and resilience.

Battleship Missouri and Arizona Memorial

Though over 1,100 men were lost on the doomed battleship, the nation picked itself up and engaged its enemies to fight for what it stands for. The oil leaking from the ruptured hull is said to be the tears of the Arizona, cried for the brave men who selflessly gave their lives on that infamous day.

Battleship Missouri

Where the Arizona Memorial may elicit a somber mood, the Battleship Missouri lifts spirits and stands as a sign of hope. On September 2nd, 1945 on this ship, anchored in Tokyo Bay, history was made with Japan’s unconditional surrender. Japan and representatives from the Allied powers signed the Instrument of Surrender, finally ending World War II. Visitors to Pearl Harbor can explore the vessel that served as the location of the ceremony ending the war, and stand on the same deck as those who signed the historic document. Even years after World War II, the Missouri was still engaged in conflicts around the world.

Front View of the USS Battleship Missouri

Continue Your Journey

From the Bowfin Submarine to the Punchbowl National Cemetery of the Pacific, travelers can immerse themselves in the history of World War II and America’s involvement in it, starting with the attack on December 7th.

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