Poignant, inspiring, sad, thoughtful, important. Those are the words I jotted down in my notebook as I toured the newly expanded WWII Valor in the Pacific National Monument and associated Pearl Harbor Historic Sites on Oahu earlier this month. To be frank, I didn’t know much about the site before I visited — my childhood introduction to the USS Arizona Memorial was The Brady Bunch TV family’s visit in the 1970s. In a high school history class, I vaguely remember covering the events leading to the United States’ involvement in World War II. In recent years, I rented Pearl Harbor from Netflix.
However, after touring the memorial firsthand, watching a fascinating documentaries about that fateful day, listening to survivors speak emotionally about their distant memories, and walking through museums filled with historic artifacts and memorabilia, I came away with a much more thorough understanding of how the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor affected so many American lives and how and why it altered the course of our nation’s history.
I also found out that my husband’s great grandfather, at the time a Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Navy, was at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. He survived, but 2,390 servicemen and civilians on Oahu that day did not.
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