It would be wrong to go to Hawaii and spend all of your time on the beach, although I certainly got my fair share of sand time. There are so many other sights and attractions to explore, especially the U.S.’ s strong military presence on Oahu. We happened to take a never-ending tour to Pearl Harbor, the Arizona memorial, a submarine, and the U.S.S. Missouri battleship. Despite my tour bus/military overload that day, we saw a lot of emotional, historic, and photogenic artifacts that I’ll remember forever.
The Arizona memorial is architecturally stunning and gleams white against the harbor’s bright blue waters, which are marbled with rainbowed oil seeping up from the sunken Arizona. It is chilling to think that every name mounted on the marbled back wall of the memorial is entombed just feet below the water.
Several sections of the Arizona are visible either immediately below or peeking up out of the harbor’s shallow water. The smell of oil was distinctively strong on the day I visited, and it perfumed the backdrop of my consciousness. The eeriest part was seeing the crusty ladders alongside severed electrical cables descending into the depths of the ship’s remains. I can’t help but wonder whether any rescue attempts were made down the rusted rungs.
Beside the Arizona memorial is a retired submarine that is open for exploration. The submarine’s interior made me teeth-grindingly claustrophobic, and I can’t imagine what it must be like to be trapped in one under the sea, unable to hastily climb up to the fresh air above. The submarine’s deck is much more enjoyable because there are different guns and binoculars you can try out.
Finally, we toured the U.S.S. Missouri, where the United States and Japan signed the treaty that ended the war between them. Unlike the submarine, the insides of the ship were absolutely enormous, and I didn’t know if I’d ever find my way out again. The bunks still had a sardine-can quality, but at least no torpedoes were wedged between the sleeping quarters.
Still, the ship is a floating city. It was especially interesting to see how the sailors cooked on board. There were rooms of pies and ovens, and I can’t imagine how hot it must have been on there. I am so lucky to be able to crack open a window and turn on the ceiling fan when my kitchen starts feeling a little too toasty. And also, it’s only a matter of time before David makes me watch Pearl Harbor again. But between the Ben Affleck and the Josh Hartnett, I might not protest too much.