At the MLK Parade, all the people marching were from different groups: there were churches, historically black fraternity and sorority groups, labor groups, political groups, you name it, it was there. Some of my personal favorites were the Hare Krishnas, the women dressed in really expensive-looking clothing acting like queens when they waved, and even a mom advertising her dog grooming business. I’m not an expert on Dr. King or his teachings, but I have a sense of what it was that he taught and what the celebration of his legacy is about. I think that MLK day is a very broadly-based holiday, as in it can be a celebration of a lot of different things and many things could potentially be related back to it. Different churches? Sure. People with posters protesting Trump & Pence? Why not. A family advertising their dog grooming business? I dunno… Did part of MLK’s dream really involve anything related to dog-grooming? “I have a dream, that one day black dogs and white dogs will be groomed together as sisters and brothers.” Hmm…
Today, I did two big things. As I already mentioned, I attended the Martin Luther King Day Parade on Oahu and then I went to Pearl Harbor to visit the USS Arizona Memorial. Also of note was dinner which was at Marukame Udon, a Japanese restaurant specializing in its soups.
Today I was like the chicken with its head cut off; my body was constantly moving but my head was somewhere else. The MLK day celebration was at 9:00 at Magic Island, a man-made park that was about 50 minutes away by walking — and ended basically right next door to my hostel. So I figured that 8:00 would be a good time to wake up so that I could get ready, grab breakfast, and catch a taxi over to the start so that I could march in the parade. When I looked at my watch and it was suddenly 8:40 and I had not yet eaten breakfast, I realized I had made a gross miscalculation. I tried to get a taxi, but like 5 taxis I tried were full. So I decided to run. “Hah I run fast, it will probably take me only 15 minutes. I’m a fast runner.” It was a 25 minute fast run with my backpack which was not fun. I saw lots of people on the streets going there just sitting there, and I thought, “Why are they just sitting there on the curb? Don’t they want to march for Dr. King? Whatever,” I thought. So I get there right as the beginning of the group starts marching. Yes! But I made another miscalculation. I forgot what people in parades do. They march. And there was no one marching that was not in a group, so I should have just stayed at the hostel and I would have seen all of them. By the time I had realized all of this, the parade was already in full-swing. I wanted to see all the groups in action, though! So naturally I ran back to Waikiki in order to watch the groups again: a total of 6 miles…Yeah my out-of-shape body ain’t going to be happy tomorrow morning.
I really liked the different bands. There were three: the Royal Hawaiian Band that I saw yesterday (they were the only group that I completely missed, unfortunately, because by the time I got back to Waikiki, they had played their last number and were at the finish line). Then there was also the US Pacific Fleet Band which was very good, and then some other miscellaneous band at the end of the pack. I don’t know if I was really paying attention, I was just having a good time marching and dancing along the bands towards the start of the pack. It was very fun.
Again, chicken with the head cut off: I went back to the room and thought, “Wow, I’m tired. Good thing its 11:15. I’ve got 1.75 hours till I need to be at Pearl Harbor.” Had I used my non-present brain, I would have looked online to find that it takes 1.5 hours to get there via bus. I only realized that at 11:30, and I also remembered that I had to get there 10 minutes early. My goose was cooked. So I dashed to the bus station but went to the one going the wrong way, so I dashed around different streets looking for the right one and consequently missed the bus. So I ran back to the hotel to try to get a cab: 2 called, neither available. So I ran back to the bus stop and caught the next bus. This all took place in the span of 20 minutes. I found myself cursing the people who got off at obscure stops, “Come on! Don’t you know I have to be at Pearl Harbor at 1:50? Help me out and just stay on the bus!”
Misssed my 1:00 tour, but luckily they had plenty of tickets available for the 1:30. Apparently they often run out. They are available on a limited basis and I had to wake up at 7:00 am the previous day to get one online. I also bought an audio tour with Pearl Harbor survivors and Jamie Lee Curtis narrating for $7.50. Very worth it.
First part of the tour was a documentary about it. I took a lot of notes, it was a very, very interesting experience. I have never been particularly interested in military histories — like what guns they used, how different military strategies were carried out, etc.– but this was a good place to start. I got a good sense of the main points. Pearl Harbor was most important because it initiated the US into WWII. The Japanese planes launched at 6:30 from aircraft carriers that had made a 12 day trip across the Pacific from Japan and they arrived at 7:55. The attack lasted 2 hours and resulted in a crippling of both the US navy and air force fleets in the Pacific. The tour wasn’t great in that it kept giving different numbers for how many died, but the highest number was over 2400 members of the military in addition to noncombatants were killed, and 1200 were wounded, the greatest disaster on American soil in history. The attack brought to the surface many issues (only one of which I really understood): the military was not making good use of technology, as a commander was informed that there were many planes that had been detected using radar coming to Hawaii, and said, “Don’t worry about it. We are expecting new B-17 planes from California.” He should have treated the information with more care, but then again, there was no protocol for detection of things using radar, so it was left up to one person’s discretion. So it’s not totally his fault. Not very smart organization. I could go on and on about the military history because I did actually enjoy it, but alas I must push on.
Getting to the memorial involved taking a boat out. They didn’t want us taking pictures of the entrance when we first got there, but it was ok when we came out (I didn’t totally understand why). The memorial is located directly above the sunken ship. The ship burned for three days and by the time it was done, much of what was left of the bodies of the people was ashes. The government tried to salvage the bodies, but they were in most cases not recognizable and in others there were only ashes left or they may have even washed to sea. So while 5 of the huge battleships were salvaged, repaired, and put back into battle (or 6? Again, conflicting numbers they gave), the ship was left in the water as a final resting place for the men who died there. You can see from the sides of the memorial out the windows the remains of the ship. There are a couple things jutting out of the water, the remains of the massive gun turrets that were blown to smitherines. The USS Arizona, a battleship made of 8000 tons of iron plating and hosting 1500 men from the military, was completely wrecked. A Japanese armor-piercing bomb tore through the deck and exploded in the ammunitions room, destroying the bow (front) of the boat. It was so explosive that one of the 1900-pound anchors flew 200 feet away from the site of the explosion. It was crazy because you would never guess that they were gun turrets by looking at them. They were just holes. Two gaping holes within cylinders that stuck out of the water. Then in the back of the room was a wall that had the names of all the people aboard the ship that had died. There were a lot of names. You sort of look at a list of names like that, of people that you never knew and that lived long before you did, and you just think, what is the value of a human life? How would the world have been different had they lived? How, even, would my family or my friend’s families been different had they lived? Interesting questions.
Then I left the memorial on the boat again to go back to the visitor’s center. I spent some time going through the various exhibits. They were good, though it seemed to me that this whole thing was a bit repetitive. Perhaps it was speaking to a different audience than me. There were many, many accounts of the event and it was sort of overwhelming and tiresome. Again, perhaps it was for people that lived through this. They would appreciate this more. Though going forward, I think that they will have to rethink their approach of presentation for future generations to make it more philosophical around what the meaning of life was. Perhaps I’m off on this, but it was just a feeling I had.
So then I got back on the bus and traveled home, where I met my new roommates Jesus and Randy. Both were headed to Lulu’s for Industrial Night. Why they named a night when the bar gives away beer for cheap “Industrial Night” is beyond me. Dinner was at Marukame Udon, this great — but cheap — Japanese restaurant. It took me 20-25 minutes to get through the line outside, but it was worth it. I got a Curry Udon (thick noodles), with a fried asparagus and sweet potato on the side. Very very good.
That’s all folks. Come back tomorrow for more!