The National Museum of the Pacific War complex sprawls across six acres today, but it began as the Admiral Nimitz Museum, housed in the historic Nimitz Hotel building with its distinctive steamboat shape.
The Nimitz Museum tells the story of the Nimitz family, who emigrated from Germany, and native son Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, who served as commander-in-chief of Allied forces in the Pacific Ocean Area during World War II.
A few blocks away, the Pacific Combat Zone, currently under construction and closed to tours, recreates a Pacific Island battlefield with a TMB Avenger Bomber, one of the PT boats that saw combat in World War II, a Japanese tank, a Quonset hut hospital, and palm trees placed around the scene.
On certain weekends (until at least September while construction continues; check www.pacificwarmuseum.org for dates), the Pacific Combat Zone stages a “living history” program with reenactments of Marines storming a beachhead and pyrotechnics as they “torch” a Japanese bunker with a WWII-era flamethrower.
For me, one of the most emotional areas on the museum grounds is the Memorial Courtyard. Wander through the garden and read the walls where more than 1,800 plaques honor those who served in the Pacific.
Reconciliation is part of the museum story, too. The Japanese Garden of Peace (closed for construction until later this year), a gift from the Japanese people to the United States honor Nimitz, feels like a tranquil oasis with its plantings of trees, gravel raked to symbolize ocean waves, and rocks placed like islands. After experiencing the war inside the museum, this is a good place to reflect and appreciate the quiet sounds of peace. — Kathryn Jones