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Information About Hawaii
Pearl Harbor May Change You as it Once Changed the World
Psychiatric News
Volume 46 Number 4 page 16-16

Joan Didion once wrote, "[I]f there is a single aura which pervades Honolulu, one mood which lends the lights a feverish luster... and which engages the imagination as mere paradise never could, that mood is, inescapably, one of war."

Didion wrote those words 35 years ago in an essay titled "Letter From Paradise." And though much has changed, it remains true that the attack on Pearl Harbor and the war that followed it transformed Hawaii and sharpened its consciousness as the nation's line of defense in the Pacific. It is a history that is now embedded in contemporary Hawaiian culture.

APA members and their guests interested in exploring this history will want to visit the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument visitor center complex, the gateway to all the sites relevant to Hawaii's World War II history—€”the USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor and the USS Oklahoma Memorial and USS Utah Memorial on Ford Island, all three of which commemorate battleships sunk during the surprise attack by the Japanese on December 7, 1941.

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The USS Arizona Memorial is a 184-foot-long structure spanning the mid-portion of the sunken battleship. Tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis at the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument visitor center complex. Visitors are urged to arrive as early as possible as tickets are frequently given away before noon. 

The World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument is not a single monument but consists of the several Hawaiian sites already mentioned and sites in Alaska and California. Other Hawaiian sites included in the monument—€”established by President George W. Bush on December 5, 2008—€”are the Battleship Row Moorings at Pearl Harbor and the Chief Petty Officer Bungalows on Ford Island.

Also on the grounds of the visitor center complex is the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum (see Warfare Under the Seas). Tourists can buy shuttle tickets at the center for the ferry to the Pacific Aviation Museum and the Battleship Missouri Memorial, both of which are on Ford Island and operated by private, nonprofit organizations. The museum honors the past and continuing role of aviation in the defense of America in the Pacific. The Battleship Missouri fought in the battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa and was the site of the Japanese surrender ending World War II in the Pacific.

Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial are among Hawaii's top tourist attractions, bringing as many as 1.5 million visitors annually. The visitor center is open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week; scheduled tours to the Arizona and other sites vary but generally begin every 15 minutes from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. The tour programs are free, and tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis, so visitors are urged to arrive as early as possible as tickets are frequently gone before noon.

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Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial are among Hawaii's top tourist attractions, bringing as many as 1.5 million visitors annually. 

Photo courtesy of Oahu Visitors Bureau.

There are no age or size restrictions, but children under age 5 must be accompanied by an adult. Appropriate dress is required—€”no swim wear or bare feet. All tours of the sites of the World War II Valor in the Pacific Monument are conducted by the National Park Service, and visitors are advised to visit the National Park Service Web site for the latest security information concerning bags, cameras, and other accessories.

The newly rebuilt and expanded visitor center includes a state-of-the-art museum with new and more historically comprehensive galleries and multimedia exhibits, additional open-air exhibits and other interpretive displays, outdoor areas for the presentation of oral histories and other educational and interpretive activities, two digital movie theaters for education and visitor orientation, and improved visitor amenities.

The USS Arizona Memorial is a 184-foot-long structure spanning the mid-portion of the sunken battleship in the harbor (see photo) and consists of three main sections: the entry and assembly rooms, a central area designed for ceremonies and general observation, and the shrine room, where the names of those killed on the Arizona are engraved on a marble wall. The Arizona was the most heavily damaged of all the vessels in Battleship Row, the target of three near-misses and four direct hits from 800-kg bombs dropped from high altitude.

A total of 1,177 crewmen were killed in the attack—€”over half of the Americans killed during the worst naval disaster in American history.

"Visitors to the USS Arizona Memorial, the USS Oklahoma Memorial, and the USS Utah Memorial should remember that these memorials commemorate those who died as a part of the December 7, 1941, attack," according to the National Park Service Web site. "These memorials are places of honor, understanding, and contemplation. Visitors are asked to assist in maintaining an atmosphere of decorum."

The visitor center is approximately a 45-minute drive from Waikiki. 16_1.inline-graphic-1.gif

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  • MORE INFORMATION:

  • World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument

  • www.nps.gov/valr/index.htm

  • (808) 422-3300

  • Pacific Aviation Museum

  • www.pacificaviationmuseum.org

  • (808) 441-1000

  • Battleship Missouri Memorial

  • www.ussmissouri.com

  • (877) MIGHTYMO; (877) 644-4896

  • USS Oklahoma Memorial

  • www.ussoklahoma.com/Pearl_Memorial.html

  • Anchor for JumpAnchor for Jump

    The USS Arizona Memorial is a 184-foot-long structure spanning the mid-portion of the sunken battleship. Tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis at the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument visitor center complex. Visitors are urged to arrive as early as possible as tickets are frequently given away before noon. 

    Anchor for JumpAnchor for Jump

    Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial are among Hawaii's top tourist attractions, bringing as many as 1.5 million visitors annually. 

    Photo courtesy of Oahu Visitors Bureau.

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