Pearl Harbor is one of the most famous military bases in the world, located on the south shore of Oahu, Hawaii. With the surprise Japanese attack on December 7th, 1941, it rose in stature to become one of most strategic bases in the Pacific. That act of war pushed the United States from an initial position of non-intervention during WWII to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s declaration of war. From an attack that lasted just over two hours, Pearl Harbor underwent a rapid transformation from training base, to under repair, to preparing for war. Today, it is home to the USS Arizona Memorial, the Battleship Missouri, and the Pacific Aviation Museum among many must-see sites. However, Pearl Harbor is more than a remembrance of the past; it is a fully functioning Joint Naval and Air Force base.
Located in the middle of the Pacific, the island chain’s location makes it strategically crucial to the USA, even in peacetime. There are 11 bases throughout the eight islands, the most essential, of course, being Pearl Harbor. The distinguished base can accommodate the biggest ships in the Navy, which are as up to 610 feet in length and weigh an astounding 15,000 tons. It hosts submarines that use the island base/dry docks as a repair and recovery site, integral to maintaining the US fleet’s readiness.
With so many Navy and other military personnel serving on the base, a large housing development is requisite. It is home to over 3,000 temporary and permanent service members and provides services for 55,000 family members each year with schools, hospitals, recreational and shopping facilities. The US military makes sure to adequately care for its service members and families as they make sacrifices that ensure freedoms for all US citizens.
In addition to those living and working at Pearl Harbor, a whopping 2 million visitors annually come to see the famous memorials. Some come to pay their respects to relatives and fellow service members who died during the attack, while others to bring closure to the pain they themselves suffered.
Many visitors come to see the beautiful and moving USS Arizona Memorial, but it’s certainly not the only monument at Pearl Harbor. There’s the famous Battleship Missouri, where the Japanese signed the Instrument of Surrender ending the war. Near the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center is the Bowfin submarine, which came into service exactly one year after the attack and now serves as a museum. Pearl Harbor and her memorials are part of the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument and are well worth a visit if you want to experience history where it was made.