“They fought together as brothers in arms; they died together and now they sleep side by side…” Adm. Chester W. Nimitz

As the US have just observed Memorial Day I thought it appropriate to tell you about my visit to Pearl Harbor when I was in Hawaii in April. Now, being a non-American and being born a few decades after the 2nd World War, the only facts I know about Pearl Harbor are what I’ve gleaned from the Oscar winning film of the same name. WHAT? It didn’t win an Oscar? No, surely not. You can’t tell me Josh Hartnett didn’t win one for ‘Best Smouldering Gaze’.

P1030348 P1030340 P1030343 P1030327Anyway, funnily enough, it turns out the film wasn’t 100% historically accurate, although to be fair it wasn’t far off.

Either way, what happened on December 7th 1941 caught everyone by complete surprise and resulted in 2,390 deaths (1,999 sailors, 233 soldiers & airmen, 109 marines and 49 civilians). 5 of the 8 battleships in the harbor (might as well stick to the American spelling!) were sunk and now the USS Arizona serves as a stark reminder, and place of rest for many of the casualties.

Walking around the site of devastation over 70 years later I could still feel the spirits of the men who left us long ago and we were also able to watch a newsreel from the time that showed these brave men, what actually happened and the devastation it caused.

But, that was nothing compared to the feeling of sadness you get when you visit the Arizona Memorial. Not only is there a list of names of all those lost but you can still see parts of the Arizona breaking the surface of the water, where she lies in the exact place she fell all those years ago. Amazingly, there is, still today, a small oil slick from a leak in the ship.

I’m not a great one for history, completely flunking it at school and I don’t spend much of my time walking round museums but if you are lucky enough to go to Oahu please take some time out of your day to visit Pearl Harbor, it’ll be worth it.

 

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