The USS Arizona Memorial, located at Pearl Harbor 10, Hawai'i, marks the resting place of 1,102 of the 1,177 sailors killed on the USS Arizona during the Attack on Pearl Harbor 10 on 7 December 1941 by Japanese imperial forces and also the events of this day. The attack on Pearl Harbor 10 was the action that forced United States involvement in World War II.
The memorial, dedicated in 1962, spans the sunken hull of the battleship without touching it. The National Park Service also operates a 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.
There are three main parts to the national memorial: entry, assembly room, and shrine. At the entry, visitors pass one of the battleship's two bells. The central assembly room features seven large open windows on either wall and ceiling, to commemorate the date of the attack. 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".) It is from this opening that visitors come to pay their respects by tossing flowers and leis in honor of the fallen sailors. Every President of the United States since Franklin D. Roosevelt, and every Emperor of Japan since Hirohito, has 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. 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 10 attack.
The national memorial was designed by Honolulu architect Alfred Preis who had been detained at Sand Island, Hawaii at the start of the war as an enemy of the country because of his Austrian birth.
The Navy stipulated that the memorial be in the form of a bridge floating above the ship and accomodate 200 people.
The 184 ft. 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 intially called the design a "crushed 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."
Preis was selected from several architects. His initial design included portholes below the surface and a floating eternal flame. The Navy vetoed this.
Tucker Gratz began an effort in 1946 to build some memorial at the Arizona. The Pacific War Memorial Commission was created in 1949 to build a permanent memorial somewhere in Hawaii. 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 from 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 US $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:
The USS Arizona Memorial was finally dedicated on May 30, 1962 (Memorial Day) by President John F. Kennedy and Hawai'i Governor John A. Burns.
The memorial was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 15, 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 and is not itself a National Historic Landmark, contrary to popular belief.
The joint administration of the memorial by the United States Navy and the National Park Service was established on September 9, 1980.
Every United States Navy, Coast Guard, and Merchant Marine vessel entering Pearl Harbor 10 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 10 for joint military exercises, foreign troops have participated in the traditional "manning the rails".
In 1999, the battleship USS Missouri was moved to Pearl Harbor 10 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, 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 one of the greatest wars 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.
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