Experience Dec. 7, 1941 Virtually at WWII Valor in the Pacific National Monument
Photo: David Croxford
Spread over nine sites across three states, the WWII Valor in the Pacific National Monument honors the people, places and events of World War II in the Pacific theater. The Hawai‘i monument includes five sites at Pearl Harbor: the USS Arizona Memorial, an observation platform straddling the sunken hull of the battleship, the final resting place of 1,102 of the 1,177 sailors and Marines killed onboard; the USS Oklahoma Memorial, with tall rows of white marble columns representing the 429 crew members who died aboard the battleship; the USS Utah Memorial, dedicated to the memory of 64 officers and men who were killed in the attack (and only open to military personnel); assorted mooring quays at Pearl Harbor; and chief petty officer bungalows on Ford Island.
“I think some people may think the [monument] is just a memorial war site but it’s also about reconciliation. Whether you’re from the United States or Japan or anywhere else, we need to focus on peace and resolving differences in a way other than war. That’s what we want to teach and share with people. That’s the true message of the park,” says Aileen Utterdyke, president and CEO of Pacific Historic Parks, a cooperating association that works in partnership with the National Park Service.
Begin your orientation at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center in Aloha Court and don’t miss the “Road to War” and “Attack” exhibit galleries displaying wartime photographs, artifacts and personal memorabilia from the time leading up to Dec. 7 and its aftermath. Catch a special documentary at the Pearl Harbor Memorial Theater and learn from interpretive wayside exhibits that invite you to experience the events of the attack on Pearl Harbor through descriptive images and visuals.
There’s also a virtual reality app that allows guests to witness the Dec. 7 attack through headsets or smartphones. “The virtual reality headsets are a narrative and interpretive experience that was rolled out during December 2016 for the 75th anniversary [of the attack on Pearl Harbor] but it’s been doing well and we’re hoping to expand that program,” Utterdyke says. “People can pick up headsets at the visitor’s center, see the ships and have this entirely new way of participating in the park. Our goal is to increase the number of interactive opportunities and enhance the ways guests have to learn about this important history.”
This year marks the 77th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Visitors can see historic film screenings, big band performances, memorial ceremonies, including the annual pouring of bourbon whiskey from a WWII blackened canteen into the water as an offering to the spirits of the fallen.
Reserve tickets for the Boat tours of battleship row. Each day, 1,300 tickets are given out for free for the 15-minute tours but they go quickly. Pay $1.50 online to guarantee your space up to two months in advance on recreation.gov (search for Pearl Harbor).
Founded Arizona Memorial founded on May 30, 1962; WWII Valor in the Pacific National Monument founded on Dec. 5, 2008
Info 1 Arizona Memorial Place; (808) 422-3399, nps.gov
Hours Open daily, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Size The monument is roughly 9.8 square miles total across three states (Hawai‘i, California and Alaska)
Annual visitors More than 1.8 million each year, at a rate of between 4,000 and 5,000 guests per day
Run by The National Park Service
Did You Know? The USS Arizona still leaks between 2 and 9 quarts of oil a day. The battleship held approximately 1.5 million gallons of thick “Bunker-C” oil when it was sunk on Dec. 7; the National Park Service estimates 500,000 gallons of fuel are still contained within the ship’s hull and it continues to leak at various rates depending on harbor, wind and tide conditions.