The Sun is shining early in the morning, the barbecues are being fired up, and the swimming pools are uncovered – summer must be creeping towards us! Before we get to summer, there’s an important American holiday to celebrate.

Memorial Day is looked at by some simply as an excuse for taking a vacation, but for many it’s a day to honor the men and women who have fallen to protect the United States. Among those brave people being honored on Memorial Day are the soldiers, sailors, and Marines who served their country over 75 years ago on what was described by President and Commander-in-Chief Franklin Delano Roosevelt as a [ “Date which will live in infamy.” ]

During your Memorial Day vacation in Hawaii, consider taking a day to observe the holiday for its intended purpose and pay tribute to the over 2,400 men who perished during the Japanese assault on Pearl Harbor. At the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, you can immerse yourself in the events of December 7th, 1941 and honor the fallen who risked and gave their lives for the safety of the United States.

Pearl Harbor’s Memories

Starting with the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center, you’re taken back to the morning it all unfolded. Two exhibits feature artifacts from the time period and tell the story of how the United States was dragged into World War II. The extensive exhibits culminate in a short video chronicling the attack and detailing the events that led to the sinking of vital American vessels.

The Reason for Memorial Day

USS Arizona

USS Arizona explosion, Dec. 7, 1941

At the start of the attack, one of the first battleships struck by the incoming Japanese fleet was the USS Arizona. The mighty vessel was one of eight battleships moored at Battleship Row, a line-up of the US Navy’s mightiest war machines.

Taken by surprise, the crew of the Arizona scrambled to fight back and protect those injured in the initial explosions, but the ship was beyond saving. By the time the smoke had settled over Pearl Harbor and the Japanese were long since returned to their aircraft carriers, the Arizona had suffered over 1,100 deaths and sunk to the bottom of the harbor.

Today, she’s a grave site for the men trapped within the wreckage and to the aged veterans who survived but opted to be interred with their comrades. The USS Arizona Memorial gives a clear picture of why we observe Memorial Day and all those men and women we’re meant to remember as the true heroes of America.

The National Cemetery

There’s another stop-off imperative to your day of remembrance – the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at the Punchbowl Crater. The crater was turned into a cemetery for the men and women who died protecting the country.

A drive through Punchbowl is a strange mix of picturesque and somber, and is the perfect closing to a day of honoring the heroes of the United States.

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