Aloha friends, it’s time for another episode of The Struggling Archaeologist’s Guide to Getting Dirty! In honor of my recent trip to Hawaii I have decided to dedicate this episode to all things Aloha, and provide an interesting journey through the history of the 50th state- from it’s volcanic inception to the tragic day that will live in infamy.
I had a great time on my vacation, but I also took it as an opportunity to learn more about Polynesian culture. Since I was staying with a friend who lives in Honolulu, it was interesting to get a local’s perspective on the current state of Hawaiian culture, after 236 years of contact with the West.
In addition to geological, cultural, and political insights into Hawaii’s history, I decided to add some personal stories from my family’s connections to WWII and the events of Pearl Harbor. History should never just be about the bullet points, it’s about the human element which allows our knowledge of the events and people of the past to become a fully realized part of our own experience. Hopefully this may mean something like that to all of you.
Enjoy the podcast, if you hang in until the end you will get a surprise serenade from yours truly! Here are some pictures of important places I visited on Oahu 🙂
This is Nu’uanu Pali lookout on the Southeastern part of Oahu. In 1795 is was the scene of one of Hawaii’s bloodiest battles, when the ruler of the Big Island, Kamehameha, attacked Oahu, and his forces drove over 400 native Kalanikūpule soldiers off the cliff edge in his effort to conquer all of the major islands. He was successful, and Kamehameha became the first King of the unified Hawaiian Islands.
This is the tower and airstrip at Wheeler Field. Where my husband’s grandfather and two of the pilots under his command, George Welch and Kenneth Taylor were stationed in December 1941. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor began, Welch and Taylor took to the skies under perilous conditions and of their own initiative. They engaged in dogfights with the Japanese forces, of which they were able to shoot down 8 planes. They were two of only a handful of pilots able to get in the air and wage a counter attack on the Japanese air forces, and they did it all wearing Hawaiian shirts. Gordon, my grandfather-in-law, was on the neighboring island of Moloka’i when the attack began, and as he rushed back to the horrors of Pearl Harbor he narrowly avoided friendly anti-aircraft fire and the entire 2nd wave of Japanese attack planes and bombers.
The memorial at Pearl Harbor honors the over 2,400 souls lost on December 7, 1941. Ahead is where “battleship row” was located on Ford Island, and where the Arizona memorial commemorates the 1,177 men lost on the Arizona battleship and the over 900 individuals still entombed in a watery grave below her decks.
That’s me, just for something a little brighter 😉 Remember to check out my blog at www.thestrugglingarchaeologist.tumblr.com!