|View of the USS Arizona Memorial from the USS Missouri|
While vacationing on Oahu in Hawaii, we took a day to visit the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument. It was a visit filled with pride and emotion as we witnessed the accounts of the morning of December 7, 1941, re-learning long-forgotten facts about the build-up to the Japanese strike and the damage that was done.
News footage and civilian movies provided devastating sights and sounds of that day in the documentary we watched before boarding the boat that took us to the waters near the USS Arizona. As luck would have it, we chose a day in which some type of renovation work on the actual memorial site would keep visitors from setting foot on this hallowed piece of history. Somewhat disappointed, the whole boatload of us made the best of the situation.
In the newly-finished museum, video interviews with service men and women who lived through the ordeal added human faces and emotions. Then, there were the children's perspectives. Adults who were part of the community as children told their stories of that morning and of the aftermath when they lived under martial law. One resident said, "We had gas masks in our arms and hibiscus in our hair."
Taking in the museum, I was impressed that there was no shying away from the despicable part that our government played in the treatment of Japanese-American citizens after Pearl Harbor. Video clips, photos and interviews show military families and citizens of Japanese descent in their anguish over the attack, the subsequent stripping of their rights, and the dehumanizing internment camps.
Additionally, on the recommendation of our friends Sissi and Vic, we also took in the USS Missouri, which is docked in Pearl Harbor. This massive battleship served our country in three wars: WWII, the Korean War, and Desert Storm. It is the site where the Instrument of Surrender between Japan and the Allied Forces was signed in September of 1945. Seeing where this history-making event happened and touring the Missouri, where our service men lived and worked and died, my emotions reached the surface more than once.
I am reminded that we do have a great country with a heritage of valor and honor. And, I'm proud to be an American.