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USS Arizona Memorial

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The USS Arizona Memorial, located at Pearl Harbor, Hawaiʻi, marks the resting place of 1,102 of the 1,177 sailors killed on the USS Arizona during the Attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941 by Japanese imperial forces and commemorates the events of that day. The attack on Pearl Harbor and the island of Oʻahu was the action that led to United States involvement in World War II.

The memorial, dedicated in 1962 and visited by more than one million persons annually, spans the sunken hull of the battleship without touching it. Since it opened in 1980, the National Park Service has operated the USS Arizona Memorial Visitor Center associated with the memorial. Historical information about the attack, boat access to the memorial, and general visitor services are available at the center. The sunken remains of the battleship were declared a National Historic Landmark on 5 May 1989.

National Memorial

 

Description

There are three main parts to the national memorial: entry, assembly room, and shrine. The central assembly room features seven large open windows on either wall and ceiling, to commemorate the date of the attack. The total number of windows is 21, symbolically representing a 21 gun salute or 21 Marines standing at eternal parade rest over the tomb of the fallen. It also contains an opening in the floor overlooking the sunken decks of the oil-seeping wreck. The oil seeping is sometimes referred to as "the tears of the Arizona" or "black tears." It is from this opening that visitors come to pay their respects by tossing flowers and lei in honor of the fallen sailors. One of the two 19,585 pound anchors of the Arizona is displayed at the entrance of the visitor center. (Its twin is at the Arizona State Capitol in Phoenix.)

Every President of the United States since Franklin D. Roosevelt, and both Emperors Hirohito and Akihito have made a pilgrimage to the site. The shrine at the far end is a marble wall that bears the names of all those killed on the USS Arizona, protected behind velvet ropes.

Contrary to popular belief, the USS Arizona is no longer in commission. She is, however, an active U.S. military cemetery. As a special tribute to the ship and her lost crew, the United States flag flies from the flagpole, which was once attached to the severed mainmast of the sunken battleship. The flag pole is now attached to the side of the memorial. The USS Arizona Memorial has come to commemorate all military personnel killed in the Pearl Harbor attack.

Design

The national memorial was designed by Honolulu architect Alfred Preis who had been detained at Sand Island at the start of the war as an enemy of the country because of his Austrian birth. The United States Navy specified that the memorial be in the form of a bridge floating above the ship and accommodating 200 people.

The 184-foot (56 m) long structure has two peaks at each end connected by a sag in the center of the structure. It represents the height of American pride before the war, the sudden depression of a nation after the attack and the rise of American power to new heights after the war. Critics initially called the design a "squashed milk carton".

The architecture of the USS Arizona Memorial is explained by Preis as, "Wherein the structure sags in the center but stands strong and vigorous at the ends, expresses initial defeat and ultimate victory ... The overall effect is one of serenity. Overtones of sadness have been omitted to permit the individual to contemplate his own personal responses ... his innermost feelings."

 

Fundraising

Following the end of World War II, the Arizona's wrecked superstructure was removed and efforts began to erect a memorial at the remaining submerged hull. The Pacific War Memorial Commission was created in 1949 to build a permanent memorial somewhere in Hawaiʻi. Admiral Arthur Radford, commander of the Pacific Fleet attached a flag pole to the main mast of the Arizona in 1950 and began a tradition of hoisting and lowering the flag. Radford requested funds for a national memorial in 1951 and 1952 but was denied because of budget constraints during the Korean War.

Throughout the 1950s there was discussion of scrapping the Arizona altogether. President Dwight D. Eisenhower approved the creation of the National Memorial in 1958. Enabling legislation required that the memorial budgeted at $500,000 be privately financed. This was not to prove the case. $200,000 of the memorial cost was government subsidized.

Principal contributions to the memorial included:

  • $50,000 Territory of Hawaiʻi initial contribution in 1958

  • $95,000 privately raised following a 1958 This is Your Life television segment featuring Samuel G. Fuqua, Medal of Honor recipient and the senior surviving officer from the USS Arizona

  • $64,000 from 25 March 1961 benefit concert by Elvis Presley

  • $40,000 from the sale of plastic models of the Arizona in a partnership between the Fleet Reserve Association and Revell Model Company

  • $150,000 from federal funds in legislation initiated by Hawaii Senator Daniel Inouye in 1961

The USS Arizona Memorial was finally dedicated on 30 May 1962 (Memorial Day) by Texas Congressman and Chairman of Veteran Affairs Olin E. Teague and Hawaiʻi Governor John A. Burns.

The Pearl Harbor National Monument Bookstore revenue helps support the museum.

 

Subsequent developments

The memorial was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on 15 October 1966. While the actual wreck of the USS Arizona was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1989, the memorial itself does not share in this status. Rather, it is listed separately from the wreck on the National Register of Historic Places. The joint administration of the memorial by the United States Navy and the National Park Service was established on 9 September 1980.

In a National Geographic Magazine feature published in 2001, concerns were expressed that the continued deterioration of the Arizona's bulkheads and oil tanks from saltwater corrosion could pose a significant environmental threat from a rupture, resulting in a significant release of oil. The National Park Service states that it has an ongoing program closely monitoring the condition of the submerged vessel.

The National Park Service, as part of their Centennial Initiative celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2016, is developing a "mobile park" to tour the continental United States to increase exposure of the park. The mobile park will also collect oral histories of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Manning the rails

Every United States Navy, Coast Guard, and Merchant Marine vessel entering Pearl Harbor participates in the tradition of "manning the rails". Personnel serving on these ships stand at attention at the ship's guard rails and salute the USS Arizona Memorial in solemn fashion as their ship slowly glides into port. More recently, as foreign military vessels are entering Pearl Harbor for joint military exercises, foreign troops have participated in the traditional manning the rails.

USS Missouri

In 1999, the battleship USS Missouri was moved to Pearl Harbor from the United States west coast and docked near, and perpendicular to, the USS Arizona Memorial. Upon the deck of the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay, the Japanese surrendered to United States General Douglas MacArthur and Admiral Chester Nimitz, ending World War II. The pairing of the two ships became an evocative symbol of the beginning and end of the United States' participation in the bloodiest war the world had ever seen.

The pairing of the two ships has not been free from controversy, however. Memorial staff have criticized the placement of the Missouri, saying the large battleship would "overshadow" the Arizona Memorial. To help guard against this perception Missouri was placed well back of the Arizona Memorial, and positioned in Pearl Harbor in such a way as to prevent those participating in Military Ceremonies on Missouri's aft decks from seeing the Arizona Memorial. The decision to have Missouri's bow face the Arizona Memorial was intended to convey that Missouri now watches over the remains of the battleship Arizona so that those interred within Arizona's hull may rest in peace. These measures have helped preserve the individual identities of the Arizona Memorial and the Missouri Memorial, which has improved the public's perception of having both Arizona and Missouri in the same harbor.

Visiting the Memorial

The Visitor Center operated by the National Park Service is free to the public and has a museum with exhibits about the Pearl Harbor attack, such as the ship's bell from the USS Arizona. Access to the USS Arizona Memorial itself is by U.S. Navy boat, for which a numbered ticket, obtained at the Visitor Center and valid for a designated departure time, is required. The memorial is visited by more than one million persons annually. Because of the large number of visitors and the limited number of boat departures, the 4,500 tickets available each day are often fully allocated by mid-morning. Before boarding the boat for the short trip to the Memorial, a 23-minute documentary film depicting the attack on Pearl Harbor is presented. Touring of the Memorial is self-guided. The National Park Service website provides visitor information, including hours of operation and ticketing advisories.

A one-hour audio tour narrated by Academy Award-winning actor and World War II Navy veteran Ernest Borgnine is available for rent at the Visitor Center. On the Center's grounds along the shoreline are more exhibits and a "Remembrance Circle". Nearby is the USS Bowfin, a World War II diesel submarine, which may be toured with separate, paid admission. The battleship USS Missouri (BB-63) and the Pacific Aviation Museum may also be visited, but require a bus ride to Ford Island.

 

 

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