My husband and I have been to Hawaii many times, but never have visited the Pearl Harbor National Park. On our recent Grand Princess cruise, determined to go, we finally did the ship excursion. They have pre-reserved tickets to the documentary short and a skiff ride to the USS Arizona Memorial.
After driving through gorgeous mountainous areas of Honolulu as well as several historical areas, we arrived at Pearl Harbor National Park. We spent two hours exploring all the war exhibits, the submarine and the sites where each battleship was sunk. There is an eerie silence among the groups of people, some in awe, some in tears, many bringing flowers and other mementos to leave throughout the park. No video is allowed and no bags , only a camera and what you can fit in your pockets — it's a working naval base with high security.
The highlight of the tour is the movie about the start of WWII and ride to the USS Arizona and battleship row. During the film you find out details about the events that led up to the United States' entry into WWII. Radar showed planes coming into the area and the people watching thought it was a delivery of US planes they were expecting when in fact it was a squadron of Japanese fighter planes. You learn that if they were intercepted history might have turned out different. After the movie everyone is in sober mood and we all walk in silence to the naval ship that took you through battleship row to the memorial.
In the memorial there is still a feeling of somber silence as you can actually see the USS Arizona on the floor of Pearl Harbor, still a burial ground to many who could not be saved. In the distance is Mighty Mo, aka the USS Missouri, the last battleship commissioned by the United States (in 1944). This is where the Empire of Japan surrendered, ending World War II.
Next time you are in Honolulu, this is a must excursion. History you never knew, details about the start of WWII, people with stories of relatives who perished, tears, and a silent walk to the bus with a better understanding of this historic and tragic event.