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Pearl Harbor Tour - Let's Never Forget December 7, 1941

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 7 10

…December 7, 1941 - a date which will live in infamy -

Honor Those Who Perished

If you’re visiting Hawaii, then a Pearl Harbor tour should be on your ‘must see list.’

In April 2007, hubby and I embarked on a cruise to Hawaii from California. For years, Hawaii had been on my ‘must see list.’ While we were eager to see everything this tropical paradise had to offer, utmost on our list was to take a Pearl Harbor tour, and pay our respects. Given we were Hawaiian newbies, we decided to take a ship sponsored excursion, entitled, “Pearl Harbor VIP Military Base Tour.”

Pearl Harbor is still a fully functional, working, US Navy base. In fact, it’s the home of the United States Pacific Command. Therefore, when taking a tour, certain security requirements need to be followed throughout your time on the base. Also, of interest, this Naval base is also on the National Register of Historic Places as well as having received the designation of being a National Historic Landmark.

Visit the USS Arizona Memorial on a Pearl Harbor Tour
For years, the Hawaiian Islands have been a hub for weddings, especially honeymoons, conventions, as well as being just a delightful place to visit for vacation. Whatever your reason for being in Hawaii, I urge you to please make time to take a Pearl Harbor tour.

Those who are cruising, like hubby and I did, you can take a ship sponsored Pearl Harbor tour, and sit back and relax, knowing that your time and tickets have already been allotted for you. Or, if you’re going to be docked in Honolulu, Oahu, just for the day, and you’re feeling slightly more adventurous, plan ahead, rent a car, drive yourself to Pearl Harbor, and do your own tour. My one caveat with this option is that tickets to the various sites at Pearl Harbor book up fast, so in order to get a tour, you must arrive early in the morning.

If you’re staying on Oahu, then you have more flexibly, because you have more than that single ‘docked’ day. The good news is you have the option to purchase some of the same tours that are offered to cruise passengers, such as the one hubby and I took. (Check your dates with touring operators, as they’re typically booked whenever a cruise ship is in port.) And, of course, you, too, can drive your rental car to Pearl Harbor, for your tour. The key with any Pearl Harbor tour, which you do on your own, is to be there early.

And if you happen to be staying on one of the other Hawaiian Islands (i.e. Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island), some travel companies even offer a Pearl Harbor tour that includes your flight over and back. Bear in mind, these tours, because of the flight, will cost more. But, if you feel that this might be your only opportunity to travel to Hawaii, a Pearl Harbor tour is worth the extra cash.

So, why is a Pearl Harbor tour worth my precious vacation time and money? What if I am more surf buff than history buff?

USS Arizona Memorial – A Popular Historical Site on a Pearl Harbor Tour
In my opinion, a Pearl Harbor tour is less an attraction, like, say, the Polynesian Cultural Center, and less an experience, like, say, snorkeling. To hubby and I, our Pearl Harbor tour was an opportunity to say a heartfelt ‘thank you’ to those military service people who died for our freedom. And it wasn’t the preservation of freedom, for only their generation, for which they gave the ultimate sacrifice. No, it was for the continuing preservation of freedom, for every generation to come - for their children, their grandchildren, and their great grandchildren.

While you may not approve of every military decision made, by every member of government, please remember that, ultimately, our freedom, its very preservation, comes from the sacrifices made by our military. So, while you have the right, and the freedom, to question decisions made, please support our troops, as they ensure you will always have this freedom to question your government and elected officials. Whatever might be ‘wrong’ with us at times, we have the best country in the world, because we have FREEDOM! Freedom, which is given to us - maintained for us - due to the sacrifices of millions of men and women.

Even if you’re not a history lover - please take a Pearl Harbor tour. You don’t have to see everything that’s offered - just say ‘thank you.’ And while you can only say a silent ‘thank you’ to those who are no longer with us, whenever you see the Pearl Harbor survivors, while on your tour, who are there to answer questions, and share their experiences, give them a smile, thank them, and give them a big hug! They deserve it.

Consider this quote by Ronald Reagan (1911 - 2004), 40th President, and loved by many Americans:

Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.

Take a Pearl Harbor Tour

Whatever Pearl Harbor tour you choose, listed below are five key sites you can visit. You will begin your Pearl Harbor tour at the new Visitor Center and Museum.

USS Arizona Memorial

USS Arizona Mooring – Taken on my Pearl Harbor Tour
For most people, on a Pearl Harbor tour, paying their respects at the USS Arizona Memorial is the first, and primary, stop on their excursion. Like other Naval ships that fateful day, the USS Arizona was docked along that famous ‘Battleship Row,’ on the morning of December 7, 1941.

The Japanese aerial bomb that struck the forward section of the USS Arizona ignited the forward magazine causing a catastrophic explosion that sunk the battleship in nine minutes.”  (Quote courtesy of: http://www.nps.gov/valr/planyourvisit/index.htm)

Oil Still Leaking from the USS Arizona
Standing above the USS Arizona was a humbling experience. And as I peered into the water, at the wreckage that was once the USS Arizona, a tear slid down my cheek. But mine wasn’t the only tear shed there that day. According to Hawaiian legend, the USS Arizona is crying. After nearly seventy years, the USS Arizona is still seeping oil. And according to this legend, the USS Arizona will continue to ‘cry,’ until the last Arizona survivor has passed.

The following sites, which I haven’t yet visited, are on my ‘must see list’ for my next Pearl Harbor tour, on my next trip to Hawaii:

Diagram of the USS Arizona Memorial in Relation to the Actual USS Arizona

Battleship Missouri Memorial

USS Missouri Picture – Taken on my Pearl Harbor Tour
The era of the ‘great battleship’ has passed, in favor of newer Naval technologies. The USS Missouri, a.k.a., the “Mighty Mo,” is the last of these ‘great battleships,’ and you can visit her on a Pearl Harbor tour. It was upon the decks of the USS Missouri that the Empire of Japan signed their surrender. And, for the younger generations of Americans, the “Mighty Mo” participated in Operation Dessert Storm, in 1991. And today, she continues to live her exalted life by, not only serving as a historical site, but by also teaching all whom she welcomes aboard, about those ‘great battleships.’

USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park  

The USS Bowfin is a World War II era attack submarine, famous for its triumphs in the Pacific. This US Navy submarine was launched precisely one year after the Japanese attack. In honor of all those who perished that tragic day, this sub was called the Pearl Harbor Avenger. Come, visit, take a tour, and learn about Navy submarines.

Pacific Aviation Museum

This museum, which is located on historic Ford Island, focuses on planes used during the battles of the Second World War. So, if you, or your kids, love planes, then this is a ‘must see’ on your Pearl Harbor tour.

USS Oklahoma Memorial

Along with the USS Arizona and the USS Utah, the USS Oklahoma was the only other battleship that couldn’t be repaired and reinstated for Navy used. This Memorial is a tribute to all those USS Oklahoma servicemen lost on December 7, 1941. Please come pay your respects on a Pearl Harbor tour.

USS Utah Memorial

On the other side of Ford Island, from ‘Battleship Row,’ is the USS Utah Memorial. However, due to its proximity to residential military housing, it seems that only military personnel, and those with them, may visit. If you’re going to Hawaii for a Pearl Harbor tour, and you have a military friend, or family member, stationed there, ask them to take you to the USS Utah Memorial, so you can pay your respects. Fifty-eight crewmen went down with the USS Utah.

In Closing

Pearl Harbor Tour – Remains of Base of Gun Turret on USS Arizona
In addition to the above Memorials and Museums, there are other military areas, which would be of interest to World War II history buffs. However, to see some of these spots, visitors may need to take a package excursion, like what hubby and I took, which has access to these military areas.

Enjoy your trip to the beautiful Hawaiian Islands, and please, make time for a Pearl Harbor tour.


Pearl Harbor Tour – The Shrine Room at the USS Arizona Memorial


My Own Pearl Harbor Tour

World War II Valor in the Pacific (US National Park Service) (www.nps.gov/valr/index.htm)

Wikipedia (www.wikipedia.org)

Battleship Missouri Memorial (www.ussmissouri.com/) 

USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park (www.bowfin.org/)

Pacific Aviation Museum (www.pacificaviationmuseum.org/)

USS Oklahoma Memorial (www.ussoklahoma.com/Pearl_Memorial.html)

USS Utah Memorial (www.ussutah.org/)



Nov 29, 2011 5:31pm
I have been to Pearl Harbor and I agree that standing above the Arizona, seeing the little drops of oil that still escape, is a humbling experience. Thanks for reminding everyone about the importance of this monument.
Dec 8, 2011 2:05pm
Thanks for commenting on my Pearl Harbor Tour article. It is a very humbling experience, watching the USS Arizona weep tears of oil.
Nov 30, 2011 11:24am
Great article and it is good to be reminded. You are quite right about the military decisions being of no consequence. Real people lost their lives there and it is those that need to be remembered.
Dec 8, 2011 2:35pm
Remembering what happened at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the brave men and women who lost their lives, and the survivors who rallied to fight, should never be forgotten. Thank you for reading and commenting on my article, and remembering these heroes.
Dec 7, 2011 1:32am
HEY! i live here! ok, not at Pearl Harbor but most definitely on Oahu (and close to another tourist spot you mention in your article). the pearl harbor presentation and tour is breathtaking. i remember being floored at the magnitude of what took place the last time i went there. i also have yet to visit the uss missouri or the pacific aviation museum. someday. hopefully soon.

you're absolutely right about how if you're on oahu and you have to get tickets you should do so as early in the morning as possible since they can sell out. remember that pearl harbor is the #1 free tourist attraction in the islands so it gets busy. also, if you're planning to do pearl harbor you should plan on doing that first thing in the morning and then heading over to aloha stadium (which is close to PH and only open on wednesday, saturday and sundays) to check out the aloha swap meet. great place to pick up some souvenirs--in fact its probably the cheapest place to shop for hawaii stuff to take back home.

congrats, southerngirl09, on a great feature article!
Dec 7, 2011 5:33am
Great article. I have watched a movie on this and I cried.
Dec 7, 2011 7:51am
This is an excellent article, Southerngirl09, very patriotic. You're right; we must never forget. Thank you for sharing this. Your pictures are wonderful, by the way.
Dec 13, 2011 9:46am
I might not get a chance to visit the historical site myself but the history and insight in it is captivating. Let me work hard. Good job.
Mar 2, 2012 8:22pm
Pearl Harbor will always have a place in history and how the world came to be. That attack was monumental to the events leading to WWII's end. Great article!
Mar 20, 2012 11:35am
Thanks to everyone for reading and commenting on my Pearl Harbor Tour article. I appreciate your support.
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