The USS Missouri took center stage on September 2, 1945, when Japanese forces officially surrendered on its deck in Tokyo Bay, ending World War II. The 58,000-ton, 900-foot-long battleship will be in the spotlight again on September 2, this time from its home in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, where it will host a celebration of the seventy-fifth anniversary of the end of the war. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, is what escalated U.S. involvement in the war.
History buffs, those who want to honor the Greatest Generation, and families who want to bring history alive for their children won’t want to miss the opportunity to take in these events.
While visiting, Pearl Harbor boasts four must-see historic attractions: The Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum, the USS Arizona Memorial, the Battleship Missouri Memorial, and the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum. The museums and memorials are open daily except for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.
Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum: TripAdvisor’s FlipKey named the museum a “#1 Historical Spot Worth Traveling For.” The museum is located on Ford Island, an active military base and a National Historic Landmark. The museum occupies two hangars that survived the Pearl Harbor bombing, Hangar 37 and Hangar 79, as well as an iconic control tower. It depicts life in Hawaii in the 1940s and walks tourists through the horrific events of December 7, 1941. Attendees can also walk through Hangar 79 and see the blue glass windows “still riddled with bullet holes” from the attack. Visitors can also walk around 50 aircraft, including a Flying Tigers Curtiss P–40, Douglas SBD Dauntless, and a Boeing B–17 Flying Fortress. Jets such as the Grumman F–14 Tomcat, McDonnell Douglas F–15 Eagle, and General Dynamics F–16 Fighting Falcon that are still in service are also housed in the museum hangar. The museum is typically open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., but museum officials announced August 26 that the museum would be closed August 27 to September 9 "in an effort to combat the spread of COVID-19."
USS Arizona Memorial: The memorial was built over the sunken USS Arizona battleship, which became “the final resting place for many of the 1,177 crewmen killed on December 7, 1941, when their ship was bombed by Japanese Naval Forces,” according to the Pearl Harbor Historic Sites website. Tourists can also visit the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center. Tourists reach the USS Arizona Memorial by boat; tours run every 15 minutes from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Battleship Missouri Memorial: Walk on board the last U.S. battleship ever built—one that was the platform for the official end of World War II and served in three wars. Now, it serves as a “peaceful giant” that “stands silent guard over Pearl Harbor,” the Pearl Harbor Historic Sites website explains. Tours run from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park: Tour one of only 15 remaining World War II U.S. submarines to learn the “tales of men who served under extreme conditions with strength, bravery and honor,” according to the Pearl Harbor Historic Sites website. The USS Bowfin launched one year after the December 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, fought in the Pacific theater, and is now open for tours in Pearl Harbor near the USS Arizona. Tours are available from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., but children under the age of 4 are not permitted onboard for safety reasons.
Other historical sites throughout Oahu are listed on the 75th Anniversary of the End of World War II Commemoration Committee website.