Ford Island

by Dante Ignacio

The Hawaiian island of Oahu is one of the most famous vacation destinations in the world.The "aloha" is Hawaii's special hospitality which welcomes visitors with its ocean vistas, golden beaches and perpetual spring like climate. Waikiki is the top visitor attraction but there are myriad other experiences to be had in Oahu, like a visit to Ford Island.

Before the nineteenth century Ford Island was known to Hawaiians as Moku'ume'ume, which literally translates as "island of the game." The "game" was limited to lesser chiefs and childless commoners and began around large bonfires where the chief in charge paired couples for the night. A child conceived during an evening tryst was consider to be the offspring of the husband not the actual father. By 1830 the Western Christian missionaries had succeeded in putting a stop to the games. In the years that followed the island took on numerous names, including Rabbit Island, Little Goats Island, and Marin Island . The islands current names honors an eminent Hawaii physician, Dr. Seth Porter Ford who owned the island in mid-1800s. The United States acquired the property from 1906 through World War I. The sole custody of the property was given to the US Navy in 1936. The year 1936 was a momentous time for the island because Pan American Clipper began using it as terminal for the airlines' pioneering efforts between the Mainland and Asia.

Amelia Earhart crashes unharmed on the island's airstrip during the second leg of her attempt to fly the whole world. The island's place in history was forever assured on December 7,1941, when the Japanese attack on Pearl harbor focused on the ships of the Pacific Fleet moored around Ford Island. Of the 96 ships in the harbor on December 7, eighteen were sunk or heavily damaged. The Arizona was a total loss but today is kept sentimentally commission, and is graced by a memorial to all the war dead of that Sunday morning. In 1962, the island was decommisioned as a naval field and two years later it was designated a National Historic Landmark. [Hoover]

A visit to Ford Island will help the visitors acknowledge the significance of the Pearl Harbor attack. It is also a time to remember all those who were killed in the December 7,1941 attack. To the younger visitors, who have no recollection of World War II it will be a history lesson.There are different plaques in Ford Island which marks the spots where the eighteen different battleships sunk at the time of the attack like the USS West Virginia, USS Tennessee and the USS Utah. The first permanent Pearl Harbor memorial is a basalt stone on Ford Island with plaque dedicated by the Navy Club in 1955. Another plaque was welded to the deck of the sunken battleship USS Utah resting on the bottom of the harbor on the opposite side of Ford Island.[Slackman]

To reach Ford Island from Waikiki and other parts of Honolulu drive west on the H-1 freeway, past the Honolulu International Airport, and exit at Arizona Memorial off-ramp onto Kamehameha Highway. Continue west on Kamehameha Highway about one mile to the fourth traffic light and turn left into the Halawa Gate. As an alternative, the city bus # 20 runs from Waikiki to the Visitor Center. Visitors has to take the ferry to go to Ford Island. The minimum dress required to board the ferry is shirt, shorts and footwear.

                         Works Cited
Hoover, Will. " Ford Island was Moku'ume'ume, a place for games. "
	Honolulu Advertiser .14 June 1995 :  d5.
Slackman, Michael. Remembering Pearl Harbor . Hawaii: Arizona Memorial
	Museum Association, 1984. 

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