On December 7, 1941
launched the infamous surprise attack on Pearl Harbor
and other military installations on the island of Oahu
. The pilot
s of the Japanese torpedo
and dive bomber
s were ordered to target the Aircraft carrier
s and then the battleships
. All the carriers were out to sea so the battleships on battleship row
took the brunt of the assault, including the USS Arizona. The ship was sunk with an incredible loss of life.
The 184-foot-long Memorial structure spanning the mid-portion of the sunken battleship consists of three main sections: the entry and assembly rooms; a central area designed for ceremonies and general observation; and the shrine room, where the names of those killed on the Arizona are engraved on the marble wall. Out of respect for many of the 1,177 crew who are still entombed within the wreck no part of the memorial structure rests on the Arizona, which is visible just below the surface (one gun turret mount breaks the waterline).
According to its architect, Alfred Preis, the design of the Memorial, "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."
Contrary to popular belief, the USS Arizona is no longer in commission. As a special tribute to the ship and her lost crew, the United States flag flies from the flagpole, which is attached to the severed mainmast of the sunken battleship. The USS Arizona Memorial has come to commemorate all military personnel killed in the Pearl Harbor attack.
Permit me a moment to tell of my personal experience on the Arizona Memorial:
I have visited the Arizona Memorial. Almost no one speaks within it's walls, anyone who does (usually Japanese tourists; don't call me a racist, this is just the way it is) is given hard looks and often told to shut up by a veteran. The open air structure is the most emotionally charged location I have ever visited. I can only imagine that the Vietnam Memorial in Washington DC is a similar experience. At the Arizona one can look trough one of the many open windows and see the ship, a tomb for still uncounted sailors. You are standing above a war-grave. The feeling one gets when one thinks about the forces it took to sink this mighty ship and kill her crew quickly makes the warm tropical sea breaze turn cold, yet you sweat. I advise anyone who plans to join the armed forces, or anyone who lives under the protection of freedom in this country to go to the Arizona Memorial. You will see what could have happened in San Francisco or Portland had it not been for the men who fought in the Pacific theater in World War II.
Today another battleship, the USS Missouri is docked near the Arizona. The Missouri was the last battleship in the US Navy and has been permanently decommissioned. The USS Missouri is the ship where the Japaneese surrendered in Tokyo Bay ending World War II. The two ships, symbolizing the beginning and end of the US involvement in World War II are now berthed together.