We arrived in Honolulu Harbor before the sun rose. I was up early and was treated to the site of the beautiful Aloha Tower. The tower looked so majestic standing sentinel as we approached our berth. I loved the fact that the beautiful Hawaiian greeting of “Aloha” was etched into the stone.
I learned the meaning of the word during one of Dr. Gaff’s talks about the Hawaiian Islands. Aloha breaks down this way:
Alo, sharing or in the present
oha, joyous affection, joy
ha, life energy, life, breath.
What a beautiful word for a visitor to these beautiful islands to be greeted with.
I was very excited about our day in Oahu. For a very long time, Randy has wanted to visit the USS Arizona Memorial. He did not want to go as a part of an excursion because, once again, he had rented a car, and wanted to be free to explore other parts of the island on his own. Unfortunately, he was too late to order tickets on line.
Fortunately, during a wonderful gathering at Antoinette’s home at the beginning of our journey, Randy mentioned his dilemma to Antoinette’s friend Lailan, who is originally from Hawaii. Lailan told Randy she would reach out to family in Honolulu and see what they could do about securing us tickets. The first thing Randy did when in Maui was to check his email and was delighted to see that Lailan’s brother had indeed gotten two tickets for us and would be at the ticket window.
A quick breakfast, shuttle to the rental car lot and we were off to the memorial. Out tickets were for 10AM and we at the Pearl Harbor Historic Sites ticket booth just in time. We met the wonderful park ranger who put our tickets aside. We were standing in line when Randy noticed the name tag on the park ranger standing in front of us. Happy, Randy introduced himself and thanked Park Ranger Lau Saulevai for making this long dreamed of visit to the memorial a reality.
Our first stop on the tour was a short movie about the attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941. Then we took a short ride in the harbor to the USS Arizona Memorial. I visited the memorial in 1979 with my family and yet, I found that my eyes started to tear and my chest got just a little tight as we approached. The first thing I wanted to do was walk over to one of the windows and look down at the water. I was amazed to see that oil is still seeping from the Arizona after all these years.
We quietly walked through the memorial stopping by each window to catch a glimpse of the visible reminders of the ship below, the wall with the names of all 1,177 crewmen who lost their lives on that terrible day, other plaques and a diagram of the ship. I did not know at the time but learned later that there are 21 windows in the memorial symbolically representing a 21-gun salute or 21 Marines standing over the fallen structure.
We also learned that many USS Arizona survivors have made arrangements to be interred with their fellow crewmen upon their death. This piece of information brought tears to my eyes.
We spent some time walking about the memorial grounds reading the many plaques explaining in detail the events as they happened on December 7, 1941 and looking through the gift shop.
We returned to our car and I asked Randy, “How do you feel now that you have finally visited the Arizona memorial?”
“It was just a reverent and surreal feeling I got with the visit to the Arizona and to know that so many navy and marine servicemen are entombed in the wreckage below your feet,” Randy replied.
“The bubbles of oil still escaping from the wreckage of the Arizona is a reminder to us all of what happened so suddenly on that day.”
“My dad was at Pearl Harbor that December. But, his ship had departed either late the evening of December 6th or early morning on the 7th, to supply a military outpost on Kauai,” Randy explained.
Our next adventure was a trip to the North Shore. Randy wanted to see the waves that so often grace that part of the island and make dreams come true for so many surfers. The ride was lovely but once we arrived at the beach Randy was a little disappointed. The beach was beautiful but the waves were small.
The ride back to Honolulu along the east side of the island was pretty, but very congested. A small consolation for Randy was stopping in a small beach town and enjoying a great lunch at the ”The Best Kua-Aina” restaurant. The burgers were juicy and cooked just right; the fries were thin, crisp and delicious.
As we traveled along the road, we received a call from Lailan’s brother Malcolm inviting to pick us up at the dock and going out for drinks. We turned away from the shoreline and took a quicker route back to the ship.
Malcom picked us up at about 6:30pm and whisked us away to a great restaurant overlooking the marina called Kincaid’s featuring classic American dining. Malcolm’s brother Ian joined us a little later and from the moment we started to talk we having a great evening. Rather than order dinner, we ordered a number of pupu’s (appetizers) that were all delicious.
As we walked back to our cabin Randy talked about our visit with Malcom and Ian:
“Our meeting, drinks and dinner with Lailan’s brothers in Honolulu was amazing. Both brothers were wonderful to us. The conversations great and I loved all the dishes Malcolm ordered. I really learned a lot about the island, customs and how the local’s feel about what is going on with the local government”.
I agreed, the conversation was interesting and lively and the cause of much laughter. Malcolm and Ian were wonderful hosts and look forward to our next visit to Honolulu and say, “Aloha” to our new friends. We were enjoying the evening so much, before we knew it, the time had come for us to return to the ship.
These three gentlemen, Park Ranger Lau Saulevai, Malcom and Ian Yee were the epitome of the word etched on the Aloha Tower. They were full of joyous and affection for a visitor to their islands and made our day memorable.
Tired after a busy day, we returned to our cabin and settled in for a night of sweet memories.
Tomorrow we will dock in Nawiliwili, Kauai.