Today marks the 71st anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.
On December 7, 1941 Japan set out to neutralize the US Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor by means of a surprise air attack. The attack brought the United States into World War II.
Many of our programs visit Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona memorial. One Community Service trip reflected on the experiences as extremely touching. “We even got to interview a Pearl Harbor survivor just as we entered the location. He gave us a detailed description of the day and the emotions that were running through his head as the attack was happening. To hear that the attacks on Pearl Harbor were a turning point in the war from a veteran that lived through it brought all of the history book stories to life.”
Another group describes the visit as a “moving experience for us all.” Two group members, Jason and Taylor, spoke with a veteran that was also visiting the memorial site with his family. They heard his remarkable story and reflected upon how lucky he was to have been on land on that day, rather than on the USS Arizona. It was remarkable to hear the first-hand story at the place where the tragedy took place.
Upon arriving at the National Historic Site, one is immediately met with the images and stories of that day. Following a brief orientation session the group makes its way to the Exhibit Galleries where we learn in greater detail about the events leading up to the attack and the response. The Pearl Harbor Memorial Theater is where we watch a short video about Pearl Habor in the war years and then as it is today. The superimposed images of the harbor reinforce our understanding of how devastating the attack really was. With all of this in mind we make our way in the shuttle boat to the memorial to the USS Arizona and the men and women who perished there. The memorial spans the sunken hull of the ship and in that somber setting we cross over it and see the actual loss of that day for ourselves. The thing that catches each visitor’s eye is the slow bubbling up of oil from the deck of the sunken ship below. The USS Arizona was fully loaded with barrels of oil and fuel and to this day it is still slowly seeping up to the surface. This simple sight is a stark pathway into history, one that connects us to the survivors and to those who were lost. Sometimes a visit to this site leaves one with more questions than when we started, and the opportunity to speak with survivors is a vitally important link to our not so distant past.
Do you want to be part of this experience? Visit Hawaiian islands and Canadian west coast in our 21-day Hawaii Spirit tour.