Pearl Harbor dedicates new visitor center

A new visitor center at Pearl Harbor officially opens to the public today. The dedication is part of the observance of the 69th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. The theme of the commemoration is “A Promise Fulfilled,” referring to the commitment to honor the history and heroes of the Pacific War with new resources that help to educate visitors. Events began on Sunday and continue through tomorrow.

Today’s dedication ceremony included Hawaii’s Senator Dan Inouye, the Commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, Admiral Patrick Walsh, and National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis. The keynote speech was given by Assistant Secretary of Fish, Wildlife and the Parks Thomas Strickland. 2,500 guests and members of the public joined military personnel for the event. The visitor center opened to the public at 6:30 am and the dedication ceremony followed. At 7:55 am, a moment of silence was observed to note the exact moment the Japanese attack began.

More than 200 Pearl Harbor Survivors registered to attend, along with more than 300 of their family and friends, according to the National Park Service (NPS). The Pearl Harbor Survivors Association is holding its annual meeting this week in Honolulu. The group was formed in 1958 and has been very active in maintaining Pearl Harbor, including fundraising for the new center.

The new 56 million dollar Pearl Harbor Museum and Visitor Center serves as a central entrance and ticketing location for the four Pearl Harbor historic sites: WWII Valor in the Pacific National Monument, USS Bowfin Submarine Museum, USS Missouri Memorial and the Pacific Aviation Museum. The new center greatly expands the information and assistance available to travelers. According to the NPS, the center includes new and more “historically comprehensive” galleries and exhibits in an expanded museum.

A new Education and Research Center with video-conferencing for distance learning will be used by school children in Hawaii and other states. Many of these students take part in “Witness to History” distance learning programs that allow them to learn from Pearl Harbor survivors, historians and National Park Service rangers about the attack on December 7, 1941 as well as World War II in the Pacific and Hawaiian history and culture.

Posted by: Bruce Fisher