On Saturday we caught a bus out to Pearl Harbor Historic Sites (USS Arizona). Pearl Harbour is something we have learnt about at school, seen in movies, and heard about all our lives from others who have been there, but never visited ourselves. Whenever we have travelled to other places we have never been disappointed by visiting the actual site where events we have heard or read about actually occurred. And this was no exception.
Our years spent living in Papua New Guinea, a key battlefield in World War 2, opened our eyes to the horror and tragedy of war first hand. We were surrounded by artifacts of both the American and Japanese occupation and knew a lot about it from our time in Rabaul and Alotau.
This visit to the USS Arizona memorial provided a fresh lens and understanding of the way America was catapulted into the war. Their subsequent actions towards Japan, which as time passes and it all becomes distant history, have become increasingly hard to connect with in the light of 21st century values. But standing in the centre of the drama, admittedly with an audio track in one ear influencing one’s perception, the actions of the people involved at the time are a lot easier to understand and relate to than when I wrote that School C history assignment on the consequences of American involvement in the Pacific Theatre in WW2.
I highly recommend taking time out from lying on the beach to do this visit.