A Hawai'ian State Of Mind No. 2
Dec. 19, 2010
HONOLULU, Hawai'i - Eternal Father strong to save whose arm hath bound the restless wave, who bidd'st the mighty ocean deep its own appointed limits keep; Oh hear us when we cry to Thee for those in peril on the sea!
I couldn't help but think of this opening verse of the Naval Hymn as we pulled up to the Pearl Harbor Memorial this morning. The 5:30 a.m. wake up call was well worth it as a bus full of team members, boosters and staff arrived at the site around 7. With the morning's chill still lingering in the air, we were able to explore the newly renovated area and learn more about December 7, 1941 - "a day which will live in infamy."
As I walked around, it was hard to imagine that a place of sheer beauty could have ever been under attack. Along with the stillness and quietude of the morning, there was a somber and contemplative mood that permeated the former battleground. Addtionally, the sight of the USS Arizona memorial across the harbor as you walk through the entrance was powerful. It was difficult not to feel at least some twinge of emotion.
There was an area in which resided a plaque for each ship that was sunk or lost at sea during the fighting against Japan in World War II and its deceased crew members were listed as "on eternal patrol." I learned that the USS Shark was the first in the war to be lost at sea with no survivors.
We visited a museum area next in which the events of the Pearl Harbor attack were layed out in succession. A short film explained the two hours during which the fighting occurred that December morning and it was interesting to find out that the Japanese air fleet was able to travel nearly 1200 miles from its origin undectected. Once they were closer to Hawai'i, the Imperial planes were indeed detected by the Americans, but a commander told the naval base to "not worry about it" since a large number of U.S. aircraft were expected in the area that morning.
What really grabbed my attention in the museum was the actual draft, complete with corrections and revisions, of the message President Roosevelt drew up to Congress asking it to declare a state of war on Japan.
Next on the agenda was a more in-depth film giving the complete background of why the attack took place and how it motivated, mobilized and united the nation, something the Japanese did not count on. We then boarded a ferry which carried us out to the USS Arizona memorial.
As we stepped off the boat, you could instantly notice the acrid smell of oil still leaking from the sunken ship as it pooled at the top of the water. The first section of the memorial was a room with flags representing the nine states that had battleships named after them in the harbor that day. There was also a wall with the name of every person killed on the Arizona.
We also learned an interesting side note in that all survivors who made it out of the ship alive were offered the honor of burial in the ship upon death. There are 21 of them alive today, each well into their nineties and they are afforded the same opportunity to this day. There is one diver in the nation who is specially trained to take an urn down into the ship, going through one of the gun columns to place it within a five-foot crevice. She is not allowed to return to the surface until the urn is settled into its final resting place.
The whole experience is one the team will surely never forget and I suggest to anyone that may visit Oahu to go visit the memorial, especially if you love history like I do. Many of our questions were answered but there were some that were left to our own desire to research the subject further.
After returning the hotel, the ladies either grabbed a bite to eat or went across the street to shop at the international market before preparing for the afternoon's practice. We had to check out of the hotel before departing for the gym since we would be flying to Hilo that evening.
Practice occurred in a different gym today, as there was a high school game going on in the Klum Gymnasium and graduation commencing at the Stan Sheriff Center. East Carolina's games against No. 9 UCLA and Hawai'i are slated to be held at the Hilo Civic Center. Following a spirited and fast-paced workout, the team rinsed off and hopped on the bus for the airport where we all were able to eat dinner before boarding the plane for a quick 45-minute flight over to the Big Island.
Tomorrow promises to be another full day in the Pacific as the Pirates will have a morning practice, take a trip to see dormant volcanoes and have a team dinner.
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