Saturday, November 7, 2015

Hawaii with Kids: Pearl Harbor

This single day trip is the reason for our several-months' study of World War 2. We all know how much more vividly history reveals itself when you can see where it took place, and when else are we going to visit one of the most important places of World War 2? Sometime else, certainly, but not in the near future.

Pearl Harbor is a chance that I simply couldn't not make the most of.

AND it has a Junior Ranger badge! Random aside: I printed these Junior Ranger badge books prior to our trip and packed them, because at that time the World War 2 Valor in the Pacific National Monument web site (isn't that name a mouthful? It's also silly, because NOBODY refers to it as anything but "Pearl Harbor," and yet when you Google "Pearl Harbor," the National Park site is not the first result because that's not actually its name) was stating that it was sometimes out of stock of them. However, when the kids went to show their completed badge books to the park ranger, he gave me a funny look and asked me if I'd copied them. It turns out that they actually SELL these badge books in the park! Yellowstone also does that, and it's a practice that I loathe. I think it's a shame to charge children for such a valuable enrichment activity that can only increase their appreciation of the park. Anyway...

I did not pitch a fit in the middle of Pearl Harbor because I did not have to buy my children their Junior Ranger books; instead, we happily used them as a spine for doing and seeing every single thing in the park:

To be fair, the Junior Ranger books were excellent, and the activities that they asked for, such as this one that has Syd physically locating herself on a a giant world map set into the concrete, immeasurably increased their understanding of both the events of Pearl Harbor and of the war as a whole. That's an even bigger reason why they should be free!

This activity was really cool. At the entrance to this gallery, the children each had to choose one individual from a wall of names and photos. Their person was included somewhere in that gallery's displays to find, and at the gallery's exit, they could find out what happened to that person after the war.

There were incredibly detailed models of both the USS Arizona and a Japanese aircraft carrier.

I tend to be rather shockingly frugal in many capacities, so the fact that I happily paid the online convenience fee to pre-book our ferry tickets to the actual USS Arizona Memorial is a testament to how much going there meant to me.

This is the Bowfin, a World War 2-era submarine. Just days prior, the children's grandfather, a former Naval officer who was stationed on a submarine, had given them a lesson on submarines, and Will, who acted at the time as if she wasn't paying a lick of attention, now, long after her grandfather could appreciate it, was able to spout off tons of information from his lesson.
Fair warning if you, yourself, take a trip here: the kids were underwhelmed by the USS Arizona Memorial, and Syd acted out so much that Matt snapped at her and earned the disapproving glare of a total stranger. The memorial is a small, crowded space, with nothing to do and only sights like this to see. If you've got wild ones, you may want to tag team with your co-parent so that they can stay running around on dry land.

I, however, think it's beautiful.
I thought this relief map of the island was cool:

In this activity, the kids are looking for Medal of Honor recipients among the fallen. It was an elegant way to inspire a discussion of their acts of bravery. This memorial is also interesting as it includes the names of the civilians who died--many of them children, many of them due to friendly fire when soldiers incorrectly prepared their anti-aircraft weapons in the chaos and instead of exploding in the air, they fell to the ground and exploded. There were also a lot of casualties among citizens who happened to be in the air flying their own private planes or taking flying lessons.
Here's the original rough draft of Roosevelt's speech in which you can see that one of the most famous lines in history was almost much less powerful. Rhetoric is important, my Friends!

Torpedo--this is what destroyed the battleships.
This display was my favorite. It's a model of the USS Arizona as it is now, underwater.

Just a few days after we returned from Hawaii, when we were still on Hawaii time, we were lucky enough to see that the National Park Service was staging a dive to the USS Arizona Memorial, and they broadcast it live. It's wonderful, and you should certainly watch it when you're working on your own World War 2 studies.

While you can, of course, study World War 2 without taking a trip to Hawaii, I could not believe how much this one visit added to the children's (and my!) understanding of the events of World War 2. It's made me jealous of every single schoolchild who lives within driving distance of a national landmark. It's recommitted me to the learning-by-traveling that we still do, but not as much as we did when the children were younger.

And in the airport on the way home, when I asked the kids where they wanted to travel to next and Will said, "Castles!" I told her that we probably wouldn't go there next, necessarily, but a trip to Europe *would* make an excellent spine for a homeschool, now wouldn't it?

Two years to save for it, a year to study for it, and perhaps we'll find ourselves in Europe sometime in 2017...


Tina said...

You make me want to study WWII and make a trip to Hawaii :0)

julie said...

And because you're military, y'all can even drive onto base and visit parts of the memorial that we didn't have access to!

kirsten said...

Just showed my boys, they thought this virtual field trip was awesome😉. I have a wwII geek here, and he wants to go there so bad! We are trying to decide on a Hawaii trip or an epic east coast history trip. We are all on the fence! But Pearl Harbor is why my redhead wants to go to Hawaii...until you mention Boston. Fun fact, I was married in Hawaii, and our reception was held on a hill overlooking Pearl Harbor! There were tiki torches on the lanai....sigh....

julie said...

Tiki torches!!! Lanai!!! I miss Hawaii sooooo much...

It sounds like your children would behave impeccably at the USS Arizona Memorial! I forgot to mention it in my actual post, but if you haven't seen it already, the movie Tora! Tora! Tora! is an incredibly accurate retelling of Pearl Harbor. It was a bit too dry for my two, so we gave up and only showed them the part of the movie concerning the actual attack, but they exclaimed at everything they saw, "Oh, the sonar operator! Grr, I can't believe that guy isn't taking him seriously! Ooh, this is the submarine scene!", etc. It was excellent reinforcement for all they'd learned at Pearl Harbor.

I *think* that we're planning an epic east coast history trip next. Or, like, epic-ish? I almost feel like I want to study the Revolutionary War this year and do all the Revolutionary War sites this summer, then study the Civil War and go back to do the Civil War sites. That feels really silly, but my OCD LOVES the idea.

kirsten said...

My kids tend to do really well at places like this, the only problem we have had is with guided tours with our spectrum kiddo. NOT a good mix. You are close enough to do two semi-epic trips, I would do that. We are just so far away, if we are going to the east coast, we are going!!! I lived there (several states) growing up and I want to show them everything!

Ps, when I went home from college when my fam lived on Oahu, I slept on a lanai, and there were geckos running up the walls frequently!