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  • Writer's pictureDavid and Jennifer Cook

Oahu (Day 2 and 3)

Updated: Apr 22, 2023

Ahhhh- Oahu it’s good to be back. It’s been almost 30 years since I last stepped on this island. David and I met after my time in Haawii. However, it was important to both of us that I share some of my favorite experiences while living on this island with David. Our goal is to forge new memories and connect through past experiences and this trip has been no exception.

Seeing my first apartment, the church where I finally felt accepted as a local, and eating at many of the same places I did all those years ago had made it feel like we have been together even longer than we really have. I know David has come to cherish them as if they were his own places as well

This was the hospital where Julia was born:

This was my first apartment (top floor right unit):

This was my church home:

This was my favorite Hawaiian grub spot:

As much as David loved every minute and soaked up everything that I had to share with him, he only requested one specific place to visit on Oahu. He really wanted to see Pearl Harbor and tour the Arizona Memorial. Unfortunately there are only a limited number of seats on the ferry to the Arizona Memorial each day. You must reserve tickets online and they only go on sale for the following day precisely at 3pm HST. We attempted to obtain tickets to the Arizona with no luck the first two days we were here. Since we were down to our last day, we made it a point to both be signed in and ready with credit card in hand at the top of the hour. We were able to reserve two spots and within 3 minutes, the tickets were sold out. There is a standby line, but that offers no guarantees. We set our time for 8 am so we would have as much time as needed to explore and visit the memorial.

It is important to keep in mind that Honolulu has rush hour traffic just like every other major city. However, it also has a crush of tourist traffic every day too. If you need to be somewhere at a specific time plan ahead! What might only take 20 minutes normally might take an hour and a half during the morning rush of motorists. Luckily for us we planned out just enough time and made it to the ferry with 10 minutes to spare. There was a LONG line of people waiting on standby and I couldn’t help but to feel grateful that we were not among that crowd waiting in the hot sun. We filed inside the auditorium and listened to the sobering speech about the memorial and the expectations of behavior while visiting.

It is hard to put into words the feelings you will experience when you arrive. It always strikes me how silent it is. Yes, you hear the shuffling of people as they move through the memorial, and the light sounds of waves and birds overhead, but it really is so quiet considering all the people visiting. The overwhelming feeling is one of reverence and that is appropriate. This is a tomb for well over a thousand men- many who are younger than the current age of my own son. The ship is right beneath your feet and the oil still rises from the hull of the ship. It is overwhelming!

I have found that going to the far end of the memorial is the best place to begin. This area houses the wall with all of the names of those aboard the USS Arizona on December 7, 1941. There is ample time to pause and read the names as you reflect on the enormity of what took place here 80 years ago.

As you make your way back from the memorial wall- there are multiple spots to peer down to what remains of the ship. I first noticed the oil that still leaks into the harbor today. These dots of oil are known as the black tears of the USS Arizona. Each day, the Arizona emits approximately nine quarts of oil into the harbor’s water. Although there is much debate about the effects of the oil above the wreck, authorities are hesitant to act. The wreck itself is a memorial for the crewmen who lost their lives and whose bodies were never recovered. For this reason, the National Parks Service hasn’t moved to stop the leakage just yet. Whatever may be decided in the future, the black tears of the USS Arizona remind us of the great sacrifice those brave crewmen made that terrible day.

After you draw your eyes away from the black tears, you will see the wreckage of the ship just below the surface of the water. Of all the ships and planes damaged in the attack on Pearl Harbor, no ship took more damage than the USS Arizona (BB-39). Within nine minutes from when the Japanese pilots dropped the bomb that hit the Arizona, it sank to the bottom of Pearl Harbor. The ship remains in the same spot where it sank today.

There is more to do at Pearl Harbor after touring the Arizona Memorial. There are many museums, short films, and even a submarine that you can tour that is docked in port. Honestly, you can spend an entire day at this site for very little money. I strongly recommend a visit if you have the opportunity. No matter your political views or opinions, it is important to always remember and honor those who fight for our freedoms and for our country.

We wrapped up our last night on Oahu in downtown Honolulu in Waikiki. We grabbed some photos from our room (on the 36th floor) and got a quick bit of dinner. Waikiki is beautiful in its own way, but neither David nor myself are huge fans of city life in general. Like I said, it is a beautiful area, but we were ready to get to Maui. We wrapped up our day and prepared to kick this celebration trip into another gear.

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