Baseball practice was scheduled for 9 this morning, but it was rained out. Lynnette woke up from her slumber and immediately began looking for things to do today; she found out that it would be free to board the Battleship Missouri for kama’aina. It was raining in Mililani, but let up by the time we got to Aiea. We decided to head over to Pearl Harbor, the drizzles be damned. I am so glad we did.
It wasn’t until our honeymoon in 2006 that I actually began to appreciate history and – for lack of a better term – how cool it is to be mere feet away from genuine articles from both the recent and distant past. Back then, I thought our trip to the Museum of Natural History in Manhattan was going to be a bummer (I just wanted to go to Mets games, alright?). Instead, I found myself tripping out. “That’s the actual thing,” I kept saying over and over. Today was just like that.
One of those specific pieces of history was on display at the “Surrender Deck.” This area of the ship is named so because it is the location of Japan’s formal surrender at the end of World War II. There’s a small circular marker to commemorate the signing of the Japanese Instrument of Surrender. I did not know any of that before today. I tried to get a decent picture of the marker, but the crowd and glare made it extremely difficult. Instead, I caught this partial of the marker featuring my two girls locked in what looks like some kind of negotiation of their own. There’s an 87% chance that ” snacks” and/or “the consumption of snacks” were central to this conversation. Anyone know a good maritime lawyer?
I’m the kind of guy who can watch certain action movies like Clear and Present Danger, The Hunt for Red October, U-571, and Top Gun over and over. I was raised on action movies and slowly graduated to military political thrillers such as Crimson Tide and faux-military political thrillers like Armageddon. Consequently, I was excited to see the guns on the ship. Holy crap, they’re huge. Not even the video for Cher’s “If I Could Turn Back Time” (the video for which was actually shot aboard the Missouri back in 1989) could have prepared me for the sheer size of the ship and its weaponry. I spent a few minutes this afternoon Googling images of the “Mighty Mo” in action. Amazing stuff.
We went below deck and for a while, it felt like we’d never emerge. We snaked our way through mess halls, kitchens, and three-tiered holes in walls that sailors and marines called beds. Madison made a game of pointing out the green stickers featuring white arrows that pointed out the next direction on the tour. After a while, though, she was discouraged. There seemed to be thousands of them. She also became moderately irritated by having to take big steps to get through doorways. I laughed when I thought about the “Frigate” mission in GoldenEye. I frequently got lost on that level. In real life, it was worse. Had it not been for those arrows, we would have gotten lost for sure. I had a great time. Lynnette once again found something free and awesome for us to do.
There’s something so impressive about seeing stuff like this up close in real life. Because I own the kind of mind that likes to race, even the smallest things catch my attention and fire up my imagination. I tried to picture sailors flying down sets of stairs in emergency situations. I tried to visualize men at those deck guns: the muzzle flash; the shells flying through the air; the gun eating the chain of ammunition. How loud it all must have been. I saw a library, a dentist’s chair, and a mail room. I saw the tiny room where those aboard the ship showered. All those things looked more or less like they do on land, only much smaller and compressed. I couldn’t live like that, not for very long, anyway. Thank you to the men and women who do in order to protect our freedoms.