|Hawaii Diary 2000|
USS Arizona Memorial
As Seen From the Bridge of the USS Missouri
Photo by John Fischer
A visit to Pearl Harbor reminds those of my generation of how we first heard about these small islands stuck in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. It was here that almost 60 years ago, World War II began for the United States when, on that ill-fated Sunday morning, the Japanese attacked the U.S. Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbor and the other Hawaiian military bases. It was our parents who fought in the war, either overseas against the forces of tyranny or at home in the war of survival.
The decision to berth the USS Missouri in Pearl Harbor within a ship's length of the USS Arizona Memorial was not without opposition. There were those who felt (and still feel) that the massive battleship overshadows the solemn memorial to those men who died on the Sunday morning so many years ago.
It was no easy fight to bring the Mighty Mo to Pearl. Strong campaigns were waged by Bremerton, Washington and San Francisco to win the last battle in which the Missouri was to be involved. For this writer, the choice of Pearl Harbor to be the permanent home of the ship was the correct and only logical one. The USS Missouri and USS Arizona Memorials serve as bookends marking the beginning of the U.S. involvement on the second world war and the end of four years of battle.
It was on the USS Missouri the the document of surrender was signed by representatives of the allied nations and the government of Japan.
We have read for some time that the best time to visit the Missouri is early morning. The memorial opens at 9:00 a.m. We timed our arrival to make a 9:30 a.m. guided tour. We purchased our tickets at the USS Bowfin/Submarine Museum ticket window. After a short trolley ride across the newly-constructed bridge to Ford Island, we stood alongside the massive structure that is the USS Missouri.
USS Missouri (BB62)
Photo by John Fischer
Specifics of our tour will be the subject on a further in-depth article. Suffice it to say that when you're in Hawaii you don't want to miss a visit to this ship that has seen so much history, from World War II, to Korea, and to Desert Storm.
The tour itself lasts a little over an hour. You then can explore areas of the ship not covered on the tour but still accessible to the public. More parts of the ship are opened every month, as funding allows areas to be brought up to current OSHA standards. The USS Missouri Memorial is a not-for-profit venture, which receives no public financing. Despite it's location next to the USS Arizona Memorial, Mighty Mo is not part of the U.S. National Park.
If you plan to visit the Missouri, allow at least three to three and a half hours, including drive time from Waikiki.