The history of Pearl Harbor dates back to the days of ancient Hawaii, and as been in constant use over hundreds of years, most notably by the United States NAVY. In Hawaiian legends, the harbor was the home to the shark goddess, Ka’ahupahau, and her son, and the powerful chief, Keanuni, is credited with creating a channel wide and deep enough for boats and ships to sail into the harbor.
In the 19th century, the United States interest in the harbor grew as a result of whaling, shipping, and trading, and soon after, an ambassador was appointed to oversee American business in the port of Honolulu. As the years went on, America served as an integral part in the Hawaiian government, and eventually the United States NAVY was granted exclusive rights to the harbor, taking possession in 1899, when the United States overthrew the Kingdom of Hawaii.
Of course, Pearl Harbor is most well known for the tragic attacks that occurred on December 7, 1941, when the Japanese unleashed 3 waves of aerial strikes, forever changing the quiet island of Oahu, and launching the United States into World War II. The morning began just like any other on base, and by the time the attacks were finished, 2,400 United States sailors would lose their lives, and the entire US Pacific Fleet would suffer great damage.
Today, Pearl Harbor still serves as an active military base, with the NAVY and Air Force sharing the base, operating as Joint Base Pear Harbor-Hickam. Vital to the US operations in the Pacific, Pearl Harbor is also the site of many museums, monuments, and memorials of Pearl Harbor, standing to honor the fallen heroes, and educate visitors on the tragedy that struck the islands on that fateful morning.
The World War II memorials at Pearl Harbor are part of the World War II Valor National Monument, which includes USS Arizona Memorial and the USS Missouri Battleship, both serving as icons of the war. The USS Arizona Memorial sits directly above the wreckage of the USS Arizona, the great battleship that was lost during the attacks. 1,107 sailors remain entombed with the battleship, forever resting at the bottom of Pearl Harbor.
A visit to Pearl Harbor is a somber experience, but a necessary one for visitors to Oahu. The tragedy that struck the island forever changed the United States of America, and the history of the attacks will live on forever. The solemn feeling of standing on the USS Arizona Memorial cannot be described, and must be experienced. Plan your visit to the memorials and museums, and pay respects to the heroes that perished so long ago.
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