As a fan of the National Park Service, I had to take a day out from the outdoors to see World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, aka Pearl Harbor.
The website had led me to believe that getting tickets to see the USS Arizona Memorial took some planning. Though a few tickets are available in advance on the web, almost all the rest are given out on the day of the visit, starting at 7 am. I got there at 7:30 am and got one ticket for 9:30 am. I told myself that this was run like a military operation – but in this case I was right.
You don’t need a ticket to see the museum or the outdoor exhibits but the whole point is to take the boat out to the memorial. At 9:15, I lined up to see the movie along with all the rest of the visitors with 9:30 tickets. No cell phones, no noise, no talking, please.
After the film, we got on a ferry run by the Navy to the Memorial.
December 7, 1941 – A day that will live in infamy. We all know President Roosevelt’s words. As with other national park battles, this one concentrated on the attacks by the enemy and the number of ships and casualties. The USS Arizona had the greatest loss of life and was one of the few ships that could not be resurrected. Hence the memorial over the sunken ship, where 991 men are entombed. The names of the men who died on the USS Arizona are inscribed on a marble wall.
But here is what fascinated me
Once the Pearl Harbor site was adopted by the NPS in 1980, it started a program where survivors of the attack on the Arizona could also be buried in the ship.
The family takes the urn with the ashes to Pearl Harbor. A ritual is performed which ends with a NPS diver taking the urn down into the rusting ship. Their name is added to the marble bench in the memorial. See the photo to your left.
There are several other attractions connected to the Pearl Harbor site, most run by Pearl Harbor Historic Sites, a cooperating association which also manages the bookstores. But I concentrated on the facility run by the National Park Service. That was war enough for me.