“…December 7, 1941 – Is a day which will live in infamy…” Franklin D. Roosevelt
President Roosevelt was right. That date is forever stamped in American history. That Sunday morning, which catapulted us into the middle of the Second World War, was just another peaceful beautiful day in paradise……and then there were planes, bombs, and explosions. 2 hours later, the attack was over and 2,403 people were dead or soon to die due to injuries sustained during the attack. 1,177 of those deaths were officers, sailors, and marines from the USS Arizona. The damage was horrendous. Japan’s attack left battleship row beneath clouds of black smoke with 21 vessels damaged or sunk, including 8 battleships. The Arizona burned for 2 and a half days. All the ships were repaired and returned to active service except the Arizona, Oklahoma, and Utah. The Arizona would never be raised again.
Franklin Alfred Pries designed a memorial to straddle the broken ship. Pries was very deliberate in every detail of his design. The memorial has a dip in the middle leaving the two sides strong and tall. He wanted to reflect our initial defeat, but ultimate victory.
The middle area of the memorial is open so that you can view the remains of the ship and have quiet contemplation.
There is an opening in the middle room floor where you can view down into the ship wreckage. There is now a living coral reef in the ruins. It gives hope that with death and destruction there can be rebirth and life.
The Shrine Room is at the back of the Memorial. You will find etched in marble, on the back wall of this room, the names of those who were entombed with the ship that day in December.
You will find on both sides of the wall of names, the sculpture of the Tree of Life. The Tree of Life is also a creation of Alfred Pries. Not only does it represent rebirth and renewal, but also serves as a reminder that we are all interconnected.
There, on both sides of the wall of names, are the names of the USS Arizona survivors who have been interred with their shipmates.
Visiting the USS Arizona Memorial is sobering, thought-provoking, eye-opening, educational, and emotional. It’s not an enjoyable or entertaining experience, but it is an extremely important experience.
A quote that has followed me since my visit to Pearl Harbor is one by President Roosevelt on November 27, 1941.
“Those who have long enjoyed such privileges as we enjoy forget in time that men have died to win them.” President Franklin D. Roosevelt