We flew back from our Christmas-New Year's trip to Kauai via Honolulu, and were able to visit the USS Arizona Memorial. I think this was the part of the trip that our son Alex was most looking forward to.
Way back in third grade (as in last year), Alex developed a keen interest in World War II, culminating in a class project on the bombing of Pearl Harbor. He researched the event for more than a month, and gave a rather stellar (no parental bias here) presentation and poster on the topic. When we told him we were coming home via Honolulu, the first thing he asked was whether we could stop at Pearl Harbor.
We found out from the Arizona Memorial website that tickets to the Arizona are free, but first-come first serve. We made a plan to get there early so we could take the ferry boat to the memorial. The ferry runs from 7:45 am - 3 pm daily, but you need a ticket with a specified time stamped on it to board the ferry to the memorial.
The USS Arizona was one of the battleships anchored in Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, when the Japanese attacked. The ship was destroyed and sunk to the bottom of the bay. Over 1300 crewmen lost their lives that day, many of whom are still entombed in the wreckage of the Arizona. Above the wreckage, there is a simple white memorial platform, where you can view the wreckage below. You have to take a ferry to get there and back, and so the number of people who can go at any given time is limited.
We had no trouble getting tickets, although we had been warned that during weekends and holidays, tickets run out early. Each ticked has the name, photo, and information of a crewmember of the Arizona who died that day. We waited for our assigned time, and were taken into a movie theatre to watch a very thoughtfully done film about Pearl Harbor narrated by Stockard Channing.
The boat ride was manned by US Naval personnel, who were all business. Some of the tourists asked if they could be photographed with them, and many people thanked them for their service.
The Memorial itself is a long white structure with a gently sloping roof that looks a bit like a cut-out of a skateboarding ramp. Inside is a long corridor with open windows and a few displays of the ship and information about it. At the far end, there is a marble wall inscribed with the names of the Arizona crewmembers.
Alex was thrilled to be here, and took great pride in sharing his knowledge of the Arizona and facts about Pearl Harbor with a boy he met there from North Dakota.
Tips for Traveling with Kids:
- I think other kids with an interest in history would appreciate this, but it is a very somber place, and probably would not hold the interest of younger children, so plan accordingly.
- Bags, including camera bags, large purses, diaper bags and backpacks are not permitted on the Memorial itself, but you can check these inside the museum.
- There is currently a great deal of construction at the site, so you have to walk about two blocks from the ticket booth to the theatre and boat dock.
- As part of the National Parks Service kids activities, Junior Ranger activity book in which kids complete specific activities to learn more about the USS Arizona and earn a Junior Ranger patch.