Visitor Etiquette at Pearl Harbor


By: Mark Loproto

Over 2,400 American servicemen were killed during the Japanese attack on December 7th, 1941. After the long war that ensued ended, the United States sought a means of memorializing the men and women who suffered during the surprise attack. In 2008, the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument at Pearl Harbor was established, providing history buffs, curious travelers, and veterans and their families an official place to revisit one of the darkest days in American history.

Being such an important piece of the history of the United States, a visit here should be handled in a respectful manner. From the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center to the Arizona Memorial and Battleship Missouri, Pearl Harbor is home to some of the most striking and important exhibits, memorials, and artifacts of the time period, and they deserve a certain level of care.

Though it’s located on beautiful, sunny Oahu, the national monument is a place of reflection and learning that should be approached with your full attention and respect.

A Place of Remembrance

Think of the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument at Pearl Harbor like a museum of fine art. Like those exhibits of antiquities, nothing at Pearl Harbor can be replaced. As you’re walking through the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center, which houses the “Road to Victory” and “Attack” galleries, please don’t touch the artifacts and relics.

Handling any piece in these exhibits can cause irreparable harm to it and damage its integrity, making it impossible for other visitors to experience it.

The Documentary

Right before you take the US Navy shuttle boat ride to the USS Arizona Memorial, you’re shown a 23-minute documentary about the attack. The information contained helps visitors understand the magnitude of the attack and pays tribute to those lost. During the showing of the documentary, keep side chatter and comments to yourself to allow others the chance to hear the story of that infamous Sunday. There’s a wealth of knowledge within that brief 23 minutes, tidbits of information that may not otherwise be readily seen during your tour.

Family-Friendly

The World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument is a family-friendly experience and parents are encouraged to bring their children to learn an important part of American history. With that said, if you are bringing a child, it is your responsibility to keep them from using Pearl Harbor as a playground. There is a lot of Navy history contained in these exhibits—especially inside the Missouri or the Bowfin, that isn’t meant to be handled.

If you notice your child getting even a little antsy, it may be a good idea to take a break and grab some lunch.

Dress Respectfully

Some areas at Pearl Harbor contain the final resting places of the men who died trapped aboard their ships. In their honor, and out of basic respect for the gravity of the place, please don’t wear inappropriate, offensive, or revealing items. This includes swimwear, so if you’re planning on a visit to the beach after your tour, bring something to wear over your bathing suit.

As long as you treat every aspect of Pearl Harbor with the respect it has earned, you’re bound to get the most out of the experience. You’ll walk away with a wealth of knowledge reserved for those who give the various memorials and exhibits their respectful attention.

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