The World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument at Pearl Harbor is a family-friendly destination that gives insight into one of the worst attacks the United States has ever seen. It’s a somber journey through time, a series of exhibits, documentaries, and memorials that serve as a learning and educational experience for people of all ages, including the children.
Knowing that children don’t get quite the same experience out of something as serious as the monuments in Pearl Harbor as adults do, the National Park Service organized a unique means of getting kids involved and engaged in the history of the Pearl Harbor.
Even if your children lose focus easily, they will still be able to love what the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument has to offer.
The Junior Ranger Program
What better way to get children involved than to give them a series of activities? Admittedly, it’s difficult to make a lot of Pearl Harbor a hands-on experience, especially considering the general tone of the place, but the NPS put together the Junior Ranger Scavenger Hunt to give youngsters the chance to understand Pearl Harbor and what the monument symbolizes.
Children ages 7 to 12 can participate in the Junior Ranger program and will find themselves learning and gaining an appreciation for this historic location without even realizing it. They start by receiving a Junior Ranger Scavenger Hunt booklet and badge from the Pearl Harbor Gift Shop, everything they need to embark on their own trek through the Pearl Harbor.
As they make their way through the exhibits in the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center, the Junior Rangers-in-training will need to pay close attention to the information and artifacts. They’ll hear stories about Hawaii and Pearl Harbor before the attack, about the gods and goddesses that were believed to once live within the harbor, then known as Pu’uloa.
Within their scavenger hunter booklet, young guests fill in the information they learn. They work through the booklet and explore the “Attack” and “Road to War” galleries, both of which chronicle the events of the attack through artifacts and memorabilia.
Astute Junior Rangers fill their books by the time they visit the last exhibit and turn it in to a Park Ranger, who will swear them in as an honorary Junior Ranger – a title that means a lot for the children and serves as a great reward for their hard work.
After the Hunt
After they’ve been sworn in, and hopefully have a better understanding of the magnitude of the events of December 7, 1941, it’s time to experience with them the timed Arizona Memorial program, which includes a short film about the attack and then a US Navy shuttle boat ride to the memorial itself. The sunken battleship is another spot for them to learn more about the attack. It’s a great place for them to understand the need for memorials and commemorations.