Pearl Harbor on the Island of Oahu is a must-see destination. You have read about Pearl Harbor in history books and seen the movies and documentaries. For me touring Pearl Harbor was like visiting The Wall or Gettysburg. It is not just a tourist stop, it is hallowed ground.
I most wanted to see the Arizona Memorial and the USS Missouri. On the way to the Arizona Memorial ferry we passed the Circle of Remembrance. I could not find any good articles on the Circle. I believe that each plaque lists the names of those killed on each ship. The simplicity of the memorial and the incredible view of the harbor make this area truly unforgettable.
The Arizona Memorial was a short ferry ride away. When you arrive the outside of the memorial is very simple and dignified. The last bomb to strike the Arizona penetrated her deck starboard of turret two and detonated in a powder magazine. The 800 kg bomb caused a massive explosion that broke the ship in two and 1,177 crewmen perished.
In spite of large numbers of people at the Memorial it is surprisingly quiet. The inside of the Memorial is simple and dignified.
For me, the most moving place was the Shrine Room. The wall contains the names of all the servicemen who are entombed in the Arizona. Veterans who served onboard her can be cremated and have their ashes entombed with their brothers in arms in the ship. One of the tour guides witnessed a memorial service for Arizona veteran and she said that the service was profoundly moving. A Navy Seal diver would take the ashes and deliver them to their final resting place aboard the ship.
The USS Missouri is best known as the battleship on which the WWII Japanese surrender was signed. The ship is massive. The tour took into the ship, bridge, crew quarters, etc. A medallion on the main deck shows the location where the surrender documents were signed. The scale of the ship and the guns is just staggering.
One of the understated heroes of WWII is the submarine Bowfin. I particularly enjoyed this tour. The boat is small but in pristine condition.