Day of Infamy

On our first full day in Hawaii, Martine and I plan to visit the Pearl Harbor National Memorial in Honolulu. We had been there before, in 1996, but I am more interested this time in reading up on Hawaii history before I go. The last time, I frankly thought I wouldn’t care for O’ahu, because it was so touristy. Now I begin to realize that it is touristy for good reason.

There are many stories about how the Pearl Harbor attack of December 7, 1941 came to be. Some have even speculated that Franklin Roosevelt knew in advance about the attack, since we had already cracked the Japanese Navy secret code. According to this theory, FDR wanted the U.S. in the war, and he was tired of the Congress lollygagging about what to do about Germany and Japan. It is interesting that none of the aircraft carriers were in the harbor during the time of the attack; and the battleships there were pretty long in the tooth.

That’s not to take away from Japan’s accomplishment. We lost a lot of good men—but probably no more than we would have lost of Congress had delayed for another six months to a year.

I remember that the whole Pearl Harbor National Memorial was pretty impressive back then. I am sure that it is even more impressive now.

This afternoon, I did a bit of research on how to use the Honolulu bus system to travel between Waikiki and the Memorial. I suppose we could pay big bucks and take a shuttle, but we could get off by paying four dollars for the both of us, round trip. I used the website TheBus.Org to obtain route maps and schedules.

WW2-Land

The USS Arizona Memorial

It’s a strange feeling to be standing on the Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor. Beneath your feet is a sunken battleship in which 1,277 sailors are interred. That is roughly half the total U.S. casualties from the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

The island of O’ahu has numerous military and naval bases, roughly 21% of the total land area. That includes not only Pearl Harbor itself, but Fort De Russy on Waikiki, Schofield Barracks, Hickam Air Force Base, Dillingham Field, Fort Shafter, and a whole host of others.

In fact, if there is anywhere on American soil that is a center of World War Two commemoration, it would have to be O’ahu. There have been at least four films made about the attack:

  • From Here to Eternity (1953) with Burt Lancaster and Montgomery Clift
  • Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970) with an American and Japanese Cast
  • Pearl Harbor (2001) directed by Michael Bay
  • Midway (2019), which begins with the attack on Pearl Harbor

There have also been numerous books on the subject. (And there still continue to be.) No doubt about it, America is still stuck on WW2.

When Martine and I visit Honolulu later this summer, we will spend a day going over all the exhibits and taking the shuttle over to the Arizona Memorial, as we did back in 1996. No doubt a lot has changed since then.