Saturday, October 13

Day 281 — Pearl Harbor

[for Monday, Oct. 8]


Amber's flight left around noon on Monday, which left me alone with the car and the island and some vague idea of stuff I needed to do and see before my own flight took off that night at 9.

So I headed to Pearl City to see the famed memorial to the USS Arizona and the other ships that were destroyed when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. The place was packed, of course, and I was dismayed to learn that I couldn't bring my camera bag or purse inside. (This distressed me on lots of levels: it meant no zoom lens but it also meant I had to shove tampons into my pockets, which is so effing tedious.) Inside the welcome center, I requested a ticket (which was free) and was told that my tour would begin in roughly forty minutes. That gave me plenty of time to wander about the grounds and the museum and the gift shop (where I bought my dad a hat and donated $15, which the checkout lady just went crazy about; I guess people my age don't usually donate anything, or else she's just a total ham).

Finally the time came for my group to line up for the pre-tour movie.

I'm not totally ignorant of history, but I can also be kind of oblivious to big details that most people know without having to think. So the documentary was a big help for me; it spelled out just how and why the attack happened, and Ben Affleck wasn't anywhere to be found. Stockard Channing narrated, and damn her if she didn't make me cry.

The film ended, the doors opened, and we boarded the little shuttle boat to the memorial, which basically consists of this weird-looking abstract white building sitting atop the remains of the USS Arizona, which were left in the harbor to decompose — the final resting place for the many men who died on the ship. There are rusting bits of the ship sticking out of the water — skeletal, mechanical limbs that are nothing more now than man-made coral for the wildlife below. I gazed upon the marble wall of names of the deceased and sighed a popular sigh: fucking war.

It was hard to not get pissed off, standing on that platform and listening to the tour guide tell everyone to keep their voices down, that it was a place of memory and somber reflection. I wasn't pissed at him, really, but just pissed in general that there are always going to be assholes who think it's kosher to just blow shit up and send people to their deaths. How fucking arrogant, to do the dirty work of nature, when all we have to do is just not kill each other.

I know, it's so simple it sounds stupid. But I stand by the idea that it's possible.

Project 365

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