>It's foot soaking and reflecting time. We woke up dark and early (the sun doesn't come up until after 6:30) and headed over to the USS Arizona Memorial. Tickets to the memorial are distributed on a first-come-first-serve basis at 7:30, and it is definitely true that if you snooze, you lose. Husband and I got into a long line at 7:00, reached the ticket counter at 8, and received tickets for the 9:00 AM tour. (By the time we left at 10:30, the day's tours were fully booked. The last tour, incidentally, is at 3:00.)

Three things really struck me while I was there. First, I was distraught at how the museum glossed over the gross inequities among servicemen. For example, it mentioned a brand new club that military men could enjoy, but neglected to mention that only white servicemen were allowed in, since the military was segregated. As usual, minorities got the shittiest jobs. Also, given the number of Hawaiians and Asians who served, I thought more attention should be paid to how they were discriminated against and even illegally rounded up. It's always pained me that while some guys - Asian, black, other "non-white" - were off fighting, their families suffered under Jim Crow and in interment camps. I realize that this is not the point of the memorial, but to me, the people who died serving a country that didn't treat them fairly deserve even more recognition for their sacrifices. (Husband pointed out that the museum is super tiny and they are trying to raise money to expand it, so maybe this will be addressed.)

I was incredibly distressed to learn that the servicemen didn't have to be caught so unaware by the attack. It seems that two guys monitoring the radar equipment noticed a fleet unexpectedly coming in. They checked and re-checked the equipment to make sure it wasn't malfunctioning, and when it still showed unexpected activity, they called it in. The guy at the information center was new - it was his first day - and he told them to ignore it. It seems that a delivery of new aircraft were due from California that day, and he assumed that is what was showing up on the radar. As a result, no warning was sounded. Over 2,000 people died. Incidentally, many Hawaiian citizens died that day as well when anti-aircraft shells misfired and fell on Honolulu. The whole thing was a tragedy that maybe could have been less severe if that info center guy took some time to verify what was going on.

On a positive note, my guidebook notes that the Japanese may have been successful in reaching a high death toll and fucking up many ships, but their focus on ships probably ultimately cost them the war. Turns out that a better target would have been the fuel tanks behind the ships and airfields. These tanks powered all of America's Pacific Fleet. According to the book, "If a single bomb had been dropped on just one of the tanks, it could have set them all ablaze. It would have a taken a year to replace that fuel. A year that our aircraft carriers would have sat idle without any gas. A year that the Japanese Navy would have had free reign." So at least that was a good outcome from a horrific event.

Overall, despite my nitpicking, the memorial was heart-rending and very emotional. I am so glad that we had the opportunity to see it. The USS Arizona is under 40 feet of water, so only the very tips of the ship are visible. Although it continues to leak oil to this day (some call it the tears of the dead), many beautiful fish were swimming around the gun turrets and other areas, almost in tribute to those who lost their lives. It was hard not to cry thinking about that fateful day.

After the memorial, Husband and I explored a WWII US submarine, the USS Bowfish. The recorded audio tour was done by the men who served on the sub, and hey had great senses of humor. It was a lot of fun. The sub sank over 40 Japanese ships, if I remember correctly. (It was a lot.)

Since we didn't leave until well after 1 pm, and my foot hurt a little, and we were really hungry, we skipped today's planned hike up a cliff. We'll try to do something athletic tomorrow after we take a tour of a former sugar plantation. The tour guides are all former workers, and they discuss what life was like on a plantation from their perspective, so I am very excited for this.

Comment