Can you believe it? Sunshine and low 80’s is the forecast here on Waikiki beach, Honolulu Hawaii today. Jay Trobec might like the climate here but he’d be bored to tears working as a meteorologist in Hawaii. The weather doesn’t change much all year round except for an occasional tsunami warning which would scare the poi out of me. Our 7 hour flight from Denver to Honolulu was uneventful..aside from the fact that even though we’re placed aboard a wide body jet, it’s still tough for this wide bodied passenger to get comfortable in the narrow bodied coach pods..especially when crammed into the center section amid a full compliment of children who weren’t too happy about mom and dad pulling them out of daycare for vacation and felt the rest of us needed to hear them complain for the flight’s duration. I found solace in cranking the headsets up high, consuming a couple Bloody Mary’s, closing my eyes and dreaming of the fun days ahead. We have another fine complement of fellow travelers in our group again..quick to laugh and ready to have a good time.
As mentioned in my last blog, I was a little concerned about reaction to the USS Arizona memorial being closed because of the idiotic government shutdown. But, I need not have been. In fact, our back-up plan, a tour of the USS Battleship Missouri, (which is a privately funded memorial) turned out to be, in my opinion, a preferred option.
No one questions what the Arizona represents. In fact, visitors are reminded again and again that it is a grave yard to over a thousand men whose bodies went down with and still rest aboard the ship which was blasted to bits during the surprise attack by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor on December 7th 1941. The entire visitor’s center as well as the memorial over the Arizona’s still visible resting place are somber places; a reminder of how Americans were caught off guard, defeated and dragged into a war few wanted but had no choice but to enter and win.
The USS Missouri, meanwhile, which didn’t enter service until three years after Pearl Harbor, not only helped bring World War II to end fighting at Iwo Jima and Okinawa, it was chosen as the site where the Japanese would eventually sign the articles of surrender on September 2nd 1945 in Tokyo Harbor.
Now, the Missouri, which went on to fight in Korea, Vietnam and Desert Storm, floats proudly at its mooring pier on Pearl Harbor’s Battleship Row; a tourist attraction located just a few hundred yards from the Arizona Memorial. It’s amazing to think that within that short distance you can find the exact spots where America entered World War II and where America and its Allies ended it. One is a place of solemn reflection and reverence, the other is a place of victory over the oppressor, satisfaction and pride.
I don’t mind telling you that standing there on the precise spot of the Missouri’s Veranda deck where the surrender was signed, I got a little choked up with feelings of patriotism and gratitude. I think all of those who are responsible for the current government shutdown should pay a visit to Battleship Row.
I was concerned too that we weren’t going to be allowed to go through the National memorial cemetery located in an extinct volcano known as the Punchbowl. But we were fine as long as our bus didn’t stop.
Our first full day on Oahu was sensory overload. Just too many beautiful things to see, hear, taste and smell. It’s hard not to keep using the word paradise to describe Hawaii but I will try. Just go ahead and find your own adjectives to describe some of the images I’ve assembled below.
We move on to Kauai in the morning. It promises to be even more lush but especially more quiet. It will be nice to get away from the hubbub and noise of Honolulu.