December 7, 1941, a date that will forever leave a dark spot in the history of Pearl Harbor and of the United States. That day, the surprise military strike launched by the Empire of Japan wrecked much of the harbor and its surrounding properties. Thousands of crewmen (including civilians) died, battleships capsized, and hundreds of army planes were left in ruins.
To honor and remember the men who died during the attack, these memorials were built as a reminder of their courage and a tribute to their selfless dedication in the service of their country.
USS Arizona Memorial – Established on May 30, 1962, the USS Arizona Memorial rests on top of the sunken hull of the battleship. Housed inside the memorial is the USS Arizona Memorial Wall where the names of USS Arizona’s honored dead are inscribed on the marble wall. There are a total of 21 windows on the memorial which symbolically represents a 21-gun salute.
USS Missouri – Nicknamed “Mighty Mo”, USS Missouri is known as the site of Japan’s surrender. Her services spanned three generations of brave American fighting men and women and three wars including World War II, Korean War, and the Persian Gulf. In her 50-year career, USS Missouri received a total of 11 battle stars.
Pacific Aviation Museum
USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park – Known as the “Pearl Harbor Avenger”, USS Bowfin is a formidable underwater enemy that sank 44 enemy ships during the Second World War. USS Bowfin’s Submarine Museum is one of Pearl Harbor’s most visited attractions. The museum’s collection includes WWII Battle Flags and Bowfin artifacts among other indoor and outdoor exhibits.
Pacific Aviation Museum – Located on Ford Island is the Pacific Aviation Museum. This famous Pearl Harbor attraction is known as the nation’s first aviation battlefield. The museum opened its doors to the public on December 2006. Although it’s still an active military base, visitors are welcome to check out some parts of the historic battlefield including Hangars 37 and 79 and the Ford Island Control Tower.
USS Oklahoma Memorial – On December 7, 2007, USS Oklahoma Memorial was officially dedicated in honor of the 429 crewmen who died during the Pearl Harbor attack. The memorial features black granite walls and white marble pillars.
Pearl Harbor Visitor Center – The Pearl Harbor Visitor Center was established as a part of the WWII Valor in the Pacific National Monument. Inside the visitor are museums and exhibits where collections of war artifacts and memorabilia are displayed. There’s also a bookstore and a gift store inside the visitor center.
Pearl Harbor Tickets
In order to get inside Pearl Harbor’s memorials and museums, visitors will have to get their Pearl Harbor tickets at the Visitor Center. But with the thousands of tourists flocking to Pearl Harbor everyday, the place can get very crowded and the line to the ticketing booth can be quite long.
Needless to say, if you want to avoid the crowd and you don’t want to waste valuable tour time waiting in line, you have to get there early.
Note: The Pearl Harbor Visitor Center opens as early as 7:00 am. The USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park also opens at 7:00 am. Both USS Arizona Memorial and USS Missouri Memorial opens at 8:00 am. The memorials of USS Utah and USS Oklahoma are open since dawn.
A far better alternative is to book a tour with Pearl Harbor Website. PHW’s collection of Pearl Harbor Tours already includes pre-purchased tickets which will allow you to visit Pearl Harbor at your own time without having to worry about waiting in line for hours.
What to expect when touring Pearl Harbor
For the millions of tourists visiting Pearl Harbor every year, the experience always bring about a jumble of emotions. Grief, to the thousands of honored dead who will eternally rest with their comrades on the very battleship they died in. Bliss, in being able to pay their respects to the heroes of Pearl Harbor. Nostalgia, for merely stepping into one of the country’s most historic places. Triumph, in the reality that although insurmountable damages and inconceivable loss of lives were laid down, victory and peace were achieved in the end.
With so many things to see and so much to experience in Pearl Harbor, you should not miss the chance to take a tour of Hawaii’s most popular historical attraction.
Important: When you do take a Pearl Harbor tour, bear in mind that you are in a revered historic site where Pearl Harbor policies are laid out for your compliance. It would be best to follow the site’s rules which are for the benefit of the visitors and of Pearl Harbor.