The USS Missouri, the ship where World War II ended, was brought here to join the USS Arizona, sunk in the 1941 Japanese attack that, for Americans, was where the war began.
Some 20,000 people turned out for a huge beach party Sunday to welcome the 887-foot, 58,000-ton mothballed battleship as it completed an 18-day crossing from the West Coast.Air National Guard jets did a flyover, fireboats sprayed high streams of water, military bands played, public officials had brief remarks, Chinese dragon and hula dancers performed and the party climaxed at sunset with a fireworks display.
A flotilla of more than 100 boats of all sizes joined the Missouri as "the Mighty Mo" was towed past Waikiki Beach.
After it is towed into Pearl Harbor, it is due for a $1 million refurbishment that will create a museum scheduled to open in January. It will rest near the Arizona, which is straddled by a gleaming white shrine.
"We're dealing with a historic landmark and a national treasure," said Roy Yee, president of the USS Missouri Memorial Association. "The marriage of this ship with the Arizona and the Pearl Harbor complex someday will gain an importance I think as great as a Statue of Liberty for the West."
It was on the teak deck of the 54-year-old Missouri in Tokyo Bay that Japanese Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu and U.S. Gen. Douglas MacArthur signed the surrender documents on Sept. 2, 1945.
The surrender came three years, eight months and 25 days after Japanese planes shattered a quiet Sunday morning with a surprise attack on military bases, crippling the Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbor. The attack brought the United States into the war.
A combat veteran of World War II and the Korean conflict, the Missouri was decommissioned in 1955 and placed on display at Bremerton, Wash., where it drew about 180,000 visitors a year.