Regardless of your age, or your interest in World War II, a visit to Pearl Harbor Hawaii is an extremely emotional experience. There are many war memorials across America, but there’s something truly different here. At 7:55 on the sunny morning of Sunday, December 7, 1941, 183 Japanese warplanes swooped out of a cloudless sky and demolished the US Pacific fleet docked at Pearl Harbor. It was this single catastrophic event, not the invasion of Poland, the Battle of Britain or the persecution of the Jews, that finally dragged the United States into World War II.
But you already knew that, right? What you didn’t know, and won’t until you set foot on this beautiful island, is that Pearl Harbor has a way of pulling you back in time and wrapping its suntanned fingers around your heart like no other place in the world. The Hawaiian Islands are truly America’s paradise and you are seduced by the perfumed scent of tropical flowers and soft kiss of Pacific trade winds the moment you arrive in Honolulu. Here, stress has a magical way of evaporating from your body. And the last thing you can imagine, as you close your eyes and stretch out on a balmy Oahu beach, is the thought of hundreds of killing machines suddenly screaming down upon you. It is this horrible paradox that will forever haunt Pearl Harbor and leave its indelible mark upon your soul.
The Japanese dive bombers are long gone, but the wondrous allure of this tropical island remains. And so do the bodies of over 1,000 American sailors – still entombed in the hull of the U.S.S. Arizona.