Our primary target on the island of Oahu was visiting the Valor in the Pacific World War II National Monument. This park was previously called the “USS Arizona Memorial.” The National Park Service renamed it in 2008 when it added sites in Alaska and California.
The Valor in the Pacific National Monument on Oahu includes the USS Arizona Memorial, a large bookstore, three museums, the USS Bowfin, and a movie. Entering the monument and visiting the museums is free, but you have to pay to get to the USS Arizona Memorial.
We visited on a beautiful, warm day. In fact, it was so warm that everyone kept reminding us to drink plenty of fluids. Water is the only fluid you can take to the memorial.
Tom and I looked at the museums and walked around the grounds a little. Then we headed to the Pearl Harbor Memorial Theater to watch the movie. We stood in a big line outside the theater. A ranger gave us a canned speech on what we would see. He also mentioned several times to turn off cell phones in the theater, while on the boat, and at the memorial. The doors opened and we entered the air-conditioned movie theater.
The movie was good at presenting both sides in the conflict between the US and Japan. When it was over, the doors on the other side of the theater opened and we filed out to board the ferry to the memorial. We had 15 minutes at the memorial, then we stood in line again to board the ferry to be returned. It felt a little like a theme park. We didn’t have time to talk to rangers or ask questions.
After getting back to shore, we immediately boarded the bus to visit the Battleship Missouri Memorial. We thought it was part of the Valor in the Pacific Monument, but it is privately owned and run. We had a nice tour of the ship with plenty of time to walk around. It was pretty much like any battleship tour. The Missouri is significant for two reasons. First, it was the last battleship built by the US, finished just before the end of the war. Second, it was the site of the surrender of Japan which signified the end of World War II.
The Valor in the Pacific National Monument is an important place to visit. It helped us remember the surprise of the attack by the Japanese and the incredible cost of war. We continue to pray everyday that we can create a world where wars are no longer necessary.