Learning the nation’s history is one of the most important things kids can do as they grow up.
As with many things, however, there can be such a thing as being too young for certain history lessons. Learning about the attack on Pearl Harbor isn’t the same as, say, hearing about how Hawaii became the 50th state. It’s a much heavier subject, one with a deeper meaning that can easily be lost on younger minds.
Whether or not children are mature enough to hear about the tragic events of December 7th, 1941 is a judgment that only those closest to them can make. To best decide if your child is ready to hear about one of the most devastating days in American history, you’ll need to know and understand just how deep the memorials and exhibits at Pearl Harbor go.
The USS Arizona Memorial
For many visitors, this is the most difficult part of Pearl Harbor to process. In addition to the 23-minute documentary that details the events of the Japanese surprise attack in quite a bit of detail, guests looking down from the memorial see the actual sunken battleship, in a way that’s haunting and somber. Learning that most of her crew are entombed within the wreckage can be quite upsetting for some.
During salvage operations in Pearl Harbor, the Arizona was deemed unsalvageable due to the extensive damage caused when her forward powder magazine exploded. Since her destruction, her broken form has been visible below the surface of the water. Years after the attack, the Arizona Memorial was constructed over the wreckage.
The Pearl Harbor Exhibits
Within the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center, the “Road to War” and “Attack!” exhibits detail the events leading up to that ill-fated day in 1941. Newspaper articles from the time show how the nation responded to the Japanese surprise assault.
Throughout the exhibits, images depicting damaged and destroyed ships are displayed, and stories of the day are told through the relics and artifacts that were pulled from the harbor, many items belonging to servicemen lost on that day.
The World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument and the other Pearl Harbor Historic Sites detail a very heavy event in American history, one that changed the nation forever. When deciding whether it’s time to bring your child to this incredible piece of American history, consider the most potentially upsetting portions of it – the USS Arizona Memorial and the collection of artifacts and personal items that once belonged to the brave men who died during the attack.