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USS Arizona Memorial

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USS Arizona Memorial, Honolulu Hawaii

The Arizona Memorial was built in 1962, and is located in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on the island of Oahu. The memorial marks the final resting place of 1,102 of the 1,177 sailors and marines killed on board the Arizona during the attack of December 7, 1941. Accessible only by boat the memorial straddles the sunken hull of the famous battleship without touching the sides. The information about the attack, displays and shuttle boat and general guest services are located at the USS Arizona Memorial Visitor Center which opened in 1980.

The Navy placed the first permanent memorial in 1955 consisting of a 10 foot tall basalt stone and plaque, placed over the mid-ship deckhouse. During the conception there were competing visions for the memorial, some thought the memorial should be for the members of the Arizona only, while others envisioned a memorial to all who lost their lives in the Pacific Theater of Action. The appropriation legislation maintained that the Arizona Memorial would be “maintained in honor and commemoration of the members of the Armed Forces of the United States who gave their lives to their country during the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on December 7, 1941.”

The National Monument was designed by Honolulu architect Alfred Preis, who was actually detained at Sand Island at the start of the war because of his Austrian birthplace. The structure is 184 feet long and with twin peaks at each end. There are 7 windows in the assembly room, located on both walls and the ceiling. Preis has said he designed the monument with the sag in the middle in order to express “the initial defeat and the ultimate victory, the overall effect is one of serenity.” He goes on to say “Overtones of sadness have been omitted to permit the individual to contemplate his own personal responses...his innermost feelings.”

There are three areas to the memorial; entry, the assembly room, and the shrine. In the shrine room, at the far end, is the marble wall that has all the names of the people killed on the Arizona. There is a plaque on the left side of the main wall that bears the names of the thirty or so survivors who have since had their ashes interred underwater aboard the Arizona by Navy divers at their or their families request. The assembly room has a opening in the floor where at one time people would be able to drop lei's into the water in honor of the fallen sailors. The string poses a sea life hazard and is no longer permitted, however they are now placed on the guardrails located in front of the names of the fallen.


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