Friday, September 19 –
Today was our last day in Hawaii, so we got up early to head to Pearl Harbor. We took a morning boat to the USS Arizona memorial. Before boarding the boat, we watched a powerful documentary about that day that explained both the American and Japanese perspectives while debunking the myths.
The Japanese Navy carried out the surprise attack against Pearl Harbor on the morning of December 7, 1941. Of course the attack brought the United States into World War II. The attack damaged or destroyed twelve American warships, destroyed 188 aircraft, and resulted in the deaths of 2,403 American servicemen and 68 civilians. While most people know the attack was aimed at the Pacific Fleet, it also targeted Army Air Corps and Marine Air Forces on the island
The visit to the Arizona was incredibly poignant. The boat took us to the sleek white floating memorial that gracefully overlooks the rust hull of the Arizona below. The Arizona sheds tears, oil still leaking from its tanks, daily into the harbor. Built in 1962, the memorial sees more than one million visitors annually. It straddles the sunken hull of the battleship without touching it. A wall of names is engraved with a list of 1,177 sailors and Marines from the Arizona who were killed in the attack. A veteran from that day was volunteering and answering questions about his experiences on the ship that day.
After returning to shore, we headed back to the city for some sightseeing. We had lunch at some food trucks near city hall. I had some Korean barbecue which was sumptuous. We then toured Iolani Palace, in the capitol district. It is the only royal palace in the United States that was used as an official residence by a reigning monarch. In fact, two monarchs governed from ʻIolani Palace: King Kalākaua and Queen Liliʻuokalani. After the monarchy was overthrown in 1893, the building became the capitol building for the Republic, Territory, and State of Hawaii until 1969. Its unique architectural style is known as American Florentine. We toured the first floor Grand Hall, throne room, the blue meeting room and dining room. We also ascended the koa wood staircase upstairs to see the private library and bedrooms of the Hawaiian monarchs. Believe it or not, the palace had electricity and telephones before the White House!
Later we drove out to see Diamond Head, the iconic ancient volcanic cone peak overlooking Waikiki and Honolulu. It almost resembles the dorsal fin of an ahi tuna. We admired the fantastic views of the peak from the park.
Even though we had checked out of the hotel earlier, we had hospitality room and showers where we could get cleaned up before going to the airport. We grabbed our bags from the concierge and left for the journey home. We did some last minute shopping at the airport. I even bought a ukulele. Our plane departed Honolulu at 9:30 p.m. for Atlanta. We would arrive at Hartsfield International Airport the next afternoon around 2:40 p.m. What an unforgettable journey!