Remembering HER...Part 3...Remembering December 7th...by Bruce Tarleton

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: War and Military  |  House: Booksie Classic

The final part to the series on Remembering Dec 7th.

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She was the USS ARIZONA (BB-39), and she died Dec. 7th, 1941. Today marks the 73rd anniversary of the Attack on Pearl Harbor, and the ARIZONA has become the icon for that Day of Infamy.u072409.jpg?width=400\"

Of the 2403 casualties that day, her crew accounts for 1177, the largest single loss of life of the attack. More than 900 of her crew remain within the sunken ship, and as such, she is designated a grave site by the US Navy.

As early as 1942 there were discussions of naming her as a Naval Memorial. The concept is an old one, and can include bounties of war as well as the vessels that fought them.  She is the only Naval Memorial that is associated with disaster.She is also designated a National Historic Site, as well as a National Historic Landmark in 1989. 

Although stricken from the records (she is no longer a commissioned ship) the US Flag still flies proudly above her. In 1950, Admiral Author Radford, Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet ordered a flagpole erected over her. At that time, a small portion of her deck was still above water, and many ceremonies were conducted on this deck. A commemorative plaque was placed at the base of the flagpole, honoring those men still entombed within.

In 1958, President Dwight D. Eisenhower approved the creation of a Pearl Harbor Memorial. Dedicated in 1962, it includes the Memorial above the Arizona, as well as the Visitors Center, located on 10.5 Acres of Naval Base land on Oahu.  (The visitors center was opened in 1980).

h97326k.jpg?width=400\"The memorial was designed by Architect Alfred Preis. Preis was an Austrian National who was interned during the war. His explanation for the design: "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."

The memorial contains 21 windows, to symbolize a 21 gun salute. No part of the memorial touches the ARIZONA. This is because the ARIZONA is a War Grave.  Within the memorial, on one wall is a listing of the names of the 1177 men who died on the ARIZONA.

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_Seaman_1st_Class_Wallace_F__Quillin_arePast crew members of the ARIZONA, upon their death, may have their ashes spread over the ship.  Since 1980, December 7th surviving crewmembers may have their ashes entombed within the ship, to rest with their shipmates.  To date, 38 internments have reunited surviving crewmembers with their fallen shipmates.

Every year on December 7th, crewmembers who survived that fateful attack have held a reunion ceremony at the memorial.The ceremony includes a pour of champaign for each of the survivors from USS Arizona glasses recovered from the ship, as well as a pour over the ship in tribute to their fallen shipmates.  This year, seven of the nine remaining survivors will make the journey for what will be the final ceremony.In their mid 90's, the remaining survivors have found it too difficult to continue making the journey.  When asked, some of the survivors indicated that while this is the last reunion ceremony they will attend, they will ultimately make one final journey to join their shipmates.

The memorial is maintained by the National Park Service, in conjunction with the US Navy. Access to the memorial is by boat only, and only from the visitor center, where tickets are issued. There is a limit of 4800 tickets per day. To date, there have been no days with left over tickets.

The memorial itself is not a National Landmark.  It is registered as a National Historic Site (National Register of Historic Places, 1966).  It is not a Naval Memorial, but rather a War Memorial.

In 1999, the USS MISSOURI BB-63, another Naval Memorial, was moored behind the ARIZONA.  The ship800pxUSS_Abraham_Lincoln_CVN72_manning_r where the Japanese delegation signed the Articles of Surrender, bringing an end to World War II, now sits with her bow facing forward, her guns trained to look over the ARIZONA, silently watching over the remains of those entombed within the sunken symbol of our entranced into that terrible conflict, so that they may rest in peace.

To this day, the ARIZONA still leaks about a quart of oil each day. Slowly bubbling to the surface, observers often remark that it is as if the ship continues to shed black tears, mourning her fallen sailors.  Some have speculated that when the last crewmember joins his fallen comrades, the ship will stop weeping.  But for now, she still cries.

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  Because She remembers.


Submitted: December 07, 2014

© Copyright 2021 btarl63. All rights reserved.

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