Pearl Harbor

Dec. 7, 1941 The day that will live in Infamy! 


Message sent in uncoded , Plain English at 7:55 am on Dec. 7, 1941

My visit to Pearl Harbor was on a much calmer day in Oct 2007. I am sharing my impressions from that visit. This post is a repeat because I don’t think I can say it any better now.

Pearl Harbor

During our first trip to Hawaii we avoided doing tours. We wanted to explore at our own pace. There are pros and cons to this approach. By not having a guide you can end up getting lost, miss out on side trips and miss some of the local lore and flavor that a guide can give you. On the other hand, traveling on your own gives you flexibility. There’s no one telling you to move on to the next event or attraction when you’d like to spend more time somewhere. I’m a fan of exploring on my own but find tours helpful at times. So I guess I’d vote for a mix of both. Pick and choose the tours carefully and explore the rest on your own, that’s my motto!Anyway we decided to use a Tour for Pearl Harbor. It wasn’t that expensive and it meant someone who knew their way around Honolulu would be driving us.

 The tour bus picked us up right next to our condo at the Fairway Villa so it was very convenient. It turned out that if we were looking for local color or flavor that we got both with our guide. His name was Kemo and he arrived wearing his native dress, a sarong. I forget which Polynesian Island he said he hailed from, maybe Fiji or Samoa? But he was very personable. On the drive to Pearl Harbor he explained the events that led up to the attack and pointed out the gaps in the mountains that the planes came through that Sunday morning.He did an great job of setting the mood and impressing on us the seriousness of the memorial we were about to visit. Once there, he guided us through the ticketing process before telling us he would meet us back at the bus after we had explored the Memorial.

The Visitor Center has a beautiful garden in the courtyard and the grounds are so lovely and peaceful, it gave me the strangest feeling as I walked around this Island Paradise imagining the horror of the attack. As if to drive home those events, our turn to see the movie was called. The movie is a documentary with real video & audio clips and screaming headlines. For me it was almost overwhelming. I don’t know how others who come here feel but for me there was just an incredible sadness. To think of whole families wiped out because back then brothers or fathers and sons could serve on the same ships. I don’t believe that is allowed anymore precisely because of what happened here.

After the movie we took the launch out to the Arizona Memorial, a gravesite for hundreds of young men. The Arizona Memorial is achingly beautiful, pristine white against the deep blue of the harbor.

From the Memorial you can look into the clear water and see the outline of the Arizona. Oil still seeps from the Arizona to this day.

 On the back of each ticket is the name & photograph of one of the men who died in the attack. Mine was Ensign Frank C. Flaherty of Michigan.

He was aboard the USS Okalahoma and awarded the Medal of Honor. Above and beyond the call of duty…For conspicuous devotion to duty and extraordinary courage and complete disregard for his own life…When it was seen the USS Oklahoma was going to capsize and the order was given to abandon ship, Ensign Flaherty remained in the turret, holding a flashlight so the remainder of the turret crew could see to escape, thereby sacrificing his own life.I did not know Ensign Flaherty or his family but my heart breaks even now as I copy this into this post. And he was only one of the 2,388 military and civilian personnel to give their lives that day.

I know this post is getting kind of long but there is one more item from my Pearl Harbor experience that I would like to share. When we got back to the bus, Kemo asked us if we had ever read a poem called DID YOU KNOW ME THEN? It was written by a park ranger assigned to the Arizona Memorial. I looked for a link to share but couldn’t find one so forgive me for going on and on but I have to share this:

I was born in a small town in the mid-west or was it a large city back east?
I can’t remember anymore.
Did you know me then?
I remember getting the chores done so I could go to the Saturday matinee or was it the baseball game.
I can’t remember anymore.
Did you know me then?
I remember the depression of the 1930’s and Papa working so hard to care for the family,
Anyway he could with odd jobs. I especially remember Mama making ends meet.
Papa was stern with the family but, Mama sweet Mama , what an angel she was.
Did you know me then?
I remember the swimming hole that we swam in, the bicycle rides, the picnics.
Did you know me then?
I remember school, Boy, do I remember School. I remember the soda shop and the good times after school.
I remember Mary the girl next door or was it Sue the girl I met at the dance.
I can’t remember anymore.
Did you know me then?
I remember people talking about the war in Europe,
But we’re in America why worry about what’s going on there.
This is America, the land of opportunity. We would never get involved in their problems.
Did you know me then?
I remember my brother Bob and I enlisting in the Navy together.
I remember Mama insisting that we serve on the same ship together, so we could take care of each other.
Did you know us then?
I remember our being assigned to the battleship USS Arizona, she was a beautiful sight to behold.
I remember when we were told we were to be home ported in Pearl Harbor, Honolulu.
Wow! Hula girls, grass skirts, beautiful beaches. Paradise, a dream come true.
Did you know us then?
I remember December 6, we all went to Bloch Arena to watch the battle of the music competition.
The music played by the bands was great.
Did you know us then?
I remember Sunday, December 7, not too much going on, just lying around.
Then that thundering noise that broke the Sunday morning quiet. It sounded like hundreds of aircraft.
I remember the explosion, my breath and whole being taken away from me.
Did you know me then?
I can hear Mama crying, Papa hasn’t cried yet.
I want to tell him “It’s ok to cry , Papa, every tear is a prayer”
We’ve been home ported here for a very long time.
I can see our buddies aboard other ships saluting as they pass by. I hope they see me returning their salute.
Do they know me?
My buddies and I are really at peace now. Pray for us!
Did you know me?
Then if you knew us, remember us always.
John Vierra, Park Ranger, USS Arizona Memorial

Thank you


We will never forget!

There are many memorials to those we’ve lost in war or tragedy. From the ruins of Pompei to Pearl Harbor to the Oklahoma City Memorial. Each and every one as well as the Vietnam Wall and all the others move me. But the one that strikes me with the most horror and vivid memories is Nine Eleven.

It’s the one event that I had a front row seat for. It is burned into my memory and my emotions as if it had just happened.

I remember getting up that morning and turning on the television for the news. There was video of smoke pouring from the Twin Towers. As I watched fascinated the first tower crumpled. I thought it was a trailer for a movie, it couldn’t be real. Things like that don’t happen here. But then the horror hit me. It was real and it was happening right before my eyes.

I was stunned…numb. I stood in my robe with my eyes glued to the TV screen. I couldn’t think. I could barely breathe.

Most of the rest of the day was a blur of emotions. But the image of those planes and the blue sky and the smoke will be with me forever. It’s the day America lost its innocence and I don’t think life has ever been the same again. It was the day civilians became the victims of a terrorist war. It was the day my generation learned the hard lesson that other generations had learned before.

The Older generation knew from  Pearl Harbor that evil and danger can invade but that was wartime and it was before “my” time. This was real, this was close, and this was a different kind of atrocity.

September 11th marks the death of innocence, New York, Pennsylvania, the Pentagon.

September 11th immortalized acts of heroism in the face of terror.

I will always remember September 11th.

WE will always remember!

The Battle of Rhode Island 1778

Have you ever heard of the Battle of Rhode Island? I hadn’t. But when I was in Portsmouth at the Green Animals I ran across a reference to it. It was quite an accident. I saw a scenic pull off and decided to investigate and there was a story board.

The Battle of Rhode Island was also known as the Battle of Quaker Hill and took place on August 28, 1778.  It was the objective of the Continental forces to recapture the island then known as Rhode Island (now called Aquidneck Island) from the British forces. It was an important objective of the colonials that the coast remain in Rebel hands to facilitate communication amongst the coastal colonies.

Rhode Island was a key , strategic location. Whoever controlled the island controlled Narragansett Bay.

The Battle was inconclusive resulting in a standoff. But the Continental army was plagued by recruitment issues and desertion so on the evening of August 28, 1778 the rebel force retreated to Bristol and Tiverton giving control of the island to the British .

Today the location of the battle is a National Historic Landmark.

Mount Washington and other tidbits

As I traveled around the White Mountains of New Hampshire I picked up a few tidbits about the Live Free or Die State.

  • New Hampshire received Statehood in 1778. It was the 9th State to join the Union.
  • The Capital of New Hampshire is CONCORD.
  • The state’s nickname is “the Granite State”
  • The State’s motto, as mentioned above, is “Live Free or Die”
  • The State Emblem is the Old Man of the Mountain. *
  • State Song: Old New Hampshire and New Hampshire, My New Hampshire
  • Flower: Purple Lilac
  • Wildflower: Pink Lady’s Slipper
  • Tree: White Birch
  • Gem: Smokey Quartz
  • Rock: Granite
  • Mineral: Beryl
  • Bird: Purple Finch
  • Animal: White Tail Deer
  • Insect: Lady Bug
  • Amphibian: Red Spotted Newt
  • Butterfly: Karner Blue
  • Saltwater Fish: Striped Bass
  • Freshwater Fish: Brook Trout
  • Area: 9,304 square miles
  • Greatest Width: 90 miles
  • Greatest Length: 180 miles
  • Coastline: 17.75 miles
  • Lakes and Ponds: 1,300
  • Miles of streams: 40,000
  • Mountain Peaks over 3,000 ft.: 82
  • Highest Peak: Mount Washington @ 6,288 ft.

*The old Man of the Mountain : Faces in stone are not uncommon around the world. New Hampshire also has the  Indian Head. The Old Man first gained it’s notoriety when Daniel Webster wrote:  “Men hang out their signs indicative of their respective trades; shoe makers hang out a gigantic shoe; jewelers a monster watch, and the dentist hangs out a gold tooth; but up in the Mountains of New Hampshire, God Almighty has hung out a sign to show that there He makes men.”

In 1945 The Old Man’s profile became the state emblem. It can be found on license plates, road signs and the State Quarter.

Since the 1920’s the granite outcropping that formed the face was showing signs of weathering. It would have failed long before its actual demise on May 3, 2003 if not for continual intervention by man over the years. Efforts to save the “Old Man” ranged from chains, to concrete, to steel rods and more but nothing could stop the slow erosion caused by weathering the seasons of freezing and thawing of Northern New England. Eventually that weathering, with gravity’s help, caused the famous icon to collapse. Today there is a marker and museum near the site.

Old Man of the Mountain vs Indian Head: When I was riding around on the Moose tour, the Guide pointed out the Indian Head formation.

According to the guide, the profile of the Indian is created as much by shadows as by actual stone. Because of this the Indian Head formation can appear quite different at different times of day and in different light. The Old Man was a true Stone Formation.

Mount Washington Wind speed record: As you know from the previous post about the cog railway, there is a sign at the summit of Mount Washington stating that the highest wind ever recorded by man was recorded on Mount Washington.

That record stood from 1934 to 1996 when a wind speed of 253 mph was recorded on Barrow Island, Australia during a cyclone. It took the World Meteorological Organization until 2010 to recognize the new record. An even greater wind of 316 mph was recorded in Moore, OK in 1999 during a F5 tornado but that was not recorded at ground level so was disqualified.

That’s more information than I have about my own state! It’s probably more than any of us wanted to know.

New Hampshire also seems to have tons of covered bridges. I haven’t found an actual count of them but they all seem to have a number assigned. So I saw one bridge that was #64 or #65 so I am guessing there are at least that many.


A Little bit of Trivia

A friend of mine is a college professor who works with foreign students in an ESL program. ( English as a second language). I happened to run across a quiz on Travel in the USA that is geared to the ESL student. I figured as I travel around the USA and was born here that  I’d Ace the test. Ha! I won’t tell you my score but I will say it wasn’t 100.

Let me know how you do on it.:)

1) At this tourist attraction in Washington D. C. you can find Lincoln’s Bedroom, the Green room and the Red Room.

  • A) The White House
  • B) The Smithsonian Institute
  • c) The Museum of US History

2) Which of the following is NOT a borough of New York City?

  • a) Manhatten
  • B) Queens
  • C) Long Island

3) Which state legalized gambling in 1931

  • a) California
  • b) New Jersey
  • c) Nevada

4) What is the smallest US state?

  • a) Hawaii
  • b) Rhode Island
  • C) Washington D.C.

5) At this famous monument located in South Dakota, you can see the faces of four US presidents.

  • a) Mount Rushmore
  • b) Yellowstone
  • c) Mount McKinley

6) Carmel is a romantic, beach resort in __________?

  • a) Florida
  • b) Hawaii
  • c) California

7) What is the capital of California?

  • a) Los Angeles
  • b) Sacramento
  • c) San Francisco

8) Jazz Music comes from this city.

  • a) New Orleans
  • b) Atlanta
  • C) New York City

9) This is the longest river in the US.

  • a) The Colorado
  • b) The Missouri
  • c) The Mississippi

10) What State is the Grand Canyon in?

  • a) Colorado
  • b) Arizona
  • c) Nevada

Ok now. Have you got your answers?

The correct answers are:











How’d you do?