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The tour started early in the morning as we were picked up at our hotel by the tour bus, driven by Nancy. Right away we knew we were going to love her. She made us feel right at home with her humor and good natured teasing. It was about a half hour ride from our hotel. The wind was blowing with heavy trade winds. We dressed in longer pants and closed toed shoes (a requirement for the tour). As we reached the center, Nancy told us she hoped we were early enough to beat the stronger winds. If the weather was bad, they would cancel the trip via boat to the Arizona.
They let us in the center and we followed Nancy to the ocean view and the USS Arizona anchor. There she gave us our instructions for the morning. We had the option of purchasing an audio tour of the area. She recommended it. We were scheduled to see a 23 minute movie at 7:45. Then IF the weather was okay, we would travel by boat to the Arizona. So, we rushed to get our self-guided tour which was narrated by Jamie Lee Curtis, National Park Service historians and Pearl Harbor Survivors. We decided we would get in line for the movie, since there wasn't enough time to start the narrated tour.
As we were waiting in line, a park guide told us the decision had been made to not send out the boats that day. It was just way too windy. We went to the theater and watched the movie. It was very emotional with newsreels, interviews of survivors and other pictures that made it feel as if you were right there with them. The room was very quiet when it finished and we all slowly walked out.
There was still a lot to see and do. We hooked up our headsets and went from area to area listening to this story. We were able to see the attack overview, the Attack Museum and the 'Road to War' Museum. As we walked and read and looked, we noticed the noise from outside. Not only was it still very windy, it now had started to rain, hard! We stopped at the book store and then took the coupon Nancy gave us to pick up a hot dog at the Aloha Court. We also walked by the USS Bowfin, Battleship Missouri and the Pacific Aviation Museum.
At the appointed time, we ran to the bus through the pounding rain. It was still fairly warm, so with the warm bus we didn't have long to wait until we were dried out. Even though we did not get to go to the Arizona, we were not disappointed in the tour. It was a visit we will not forget. Having both my father and father-in-law being soldiers in this war and also my father's brother losing his life, made this a powerful tour.
Here are a few other facts:
- USS Arizona Memorial is the most visited destination in Hawaii
- The Arizona Memorial is built directly above the sunken USS Arizona battleship
- A total of 1,777 marines and sailors lost their lives on the USS Arizona