World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, Pearl Harbor is located in Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, on the island of Oahu in the State of Hawai'i. The Pearl Harbor area was designated a national historic landmark in 1964 for its strategic importance related to the United States' annexation of Hawai'i, and for the December 7, 1941, Japanese attack during World War II. Within close proximity to downtown Honolulu and the resort area of Waikiki, the Pearl Harbor site is the most visited destination on Oahu.
Pearl Harbor is one of three locations where sites associated with the Pacific War were designated as part of the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument to commemorate the heroic sacrifices made in the cause of democracy and freedom during World War II. The monument also includes sites on the Aleutian Islands in Alaska and in Newell, California (Tule Lake Unit). The three locations are managed separately, but together tell the broader story of the Pacific War.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services manages the Aleutian Island sites to honor soldiers and civilians and their sacrifices near the northern limit of Imperial Japan's expansion in the Pacific. At Tule Lake, California, the national monument is managed through a partnership between the National Park Service (NPS) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to preserve, study, and interpret the setting and history of the incarceration, and later segregation, of Nikkei (U.S. citizens of Japanese descent and resident aliens of Japanese ancestry) at Tule Lake during World War II.
The role of the NPS at Pearl Harbor has evolved over time. In 1958, President Dwight D. Eisenhower approved legislation for the establishment of the USS Arizona Memorial to commemorate military personnel killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The USS Arizona Memorial was constructed over the hull of the sunken USS Arizona, and dedicated by the Pacific War Memorial Commission in 1962. Visitation and management of the memorial was the responsibility of the US Navy until 1980, when operations were turned over to the National Park Service through an agreement with the US Navy. The National Park Service and US Navy jointly constructed and opened the USS Arizona Memorial Visitor Center in 1980.
On December 5, 2008, an Executive Order establishing World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument expanded the NPS mission and directed the National Park Service to manage the following sites at Pearl Harbor: the USS Arizona Memorial and Visitor Center (now referred to as the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center); the USS Utah and USS Oklahoma memorials (although not the shipwrecks themselves); six Chief Petty Officer bungalows on Ford Island; and mooring quays F6 North and South, F7 North and South, and F8 North and South (part of Battleship Row). The bungalows represent a significant element of the Battleship Row area - namely, these residences are reminders of the presence of nonmilitary individuals (families of chief petty officers assigned to work on aircraft maintenance) in a battle scene. This neighborhood came under fire during the attack and the buildings themselves provided cover for sailors and Marines swimming through burning waters toward safety.
Central to the NPS mission at Pearl Harbor is memorializing those who fell during the December 7, 1941, attack on Oah'u. The USS Arizona Memorial honors the 1,177 crewmen who died as a result of the attack. The hull is both a tomb for more than 900 sailors who remain within and also serves as an artificial reef providing habitat for marine life. The USS Oklahoma Memorial honors then 429 sailors who died when the ship capsized. The USS Utah Memorial, with its visible hull nearby, commemorates its 58 dead. Although not within the monument boundaries, both the USS Arizona and USS Utah shipwrecks are designated national historic landmarks located in Pearl Harbor. Through an agreement with the US Navy, the National Park Service is responsible for management of the archeological material features associated with the USS Utah and USS Arizona shipwrecks.
The recently expanded and renovated Pearl Harbor Visitor Center offers excellent opportunities to learn about the Pacific War and the December 7, 1941, attack on Oah'u. The complex features two exhibit galleries, outdoor exhibits, an audio tour, a theater, and a bookstore. From this area, visitors are able to access other Pearl Harbor Historic Sites, such as the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park, the Battleship Missouri Memorial, and the Pacific Aviation Museum.