The USS Arizona Memorial is built over the sunken wreckage of the USS Arizona, the final resting place for many of the 1,177 crewmen killed on December 7, 1941 when Japanese Naval Forces bombed Pearl Harbor. The memorial is part of World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument. The Pearl Harbor Visitor Center includes two museums that tell the story of the attack on Pearl Harbor and World War II. Outdoor exhibits on the visitor center grounds continue the narrative. The USS Arizona Memorial tour includes a National Park Service movie on the attack on Pearl Harbor and the boat ride to the memorial. The Navy placed the first permanent memorial, a ten-foot-tall basalt stone and plaque, over the mid-ship deckhouse on December 7, 1955.
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The USS Arizona Memorial grew out of wartime desire to establish some sort of memorial at Pearl Harbor to honor those who died in the attack. Suggestions for such a memorial began in 1943, but it wasn't until 1949, when the Territory of Hawaii established the Pacific War Memorial Commission, that the first real steps were taken to bring it about. Initial recognition came in 1950 when Admiral Arthur Radford, Commander in Chief, Pacific (CINCPAC), ordered that a flagpole be erected over the sunken battleship. On the ninth anniversary of the attack, a commemorative plaque was placed at the base of the flagpole. [source]
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President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who helped achieve Allied victory in Europe during World War II, approved the creation of the Memorial in 1958. Its construction was completed in 1961 with public funds appropriated by Congress and private donations. The Memorial was dedicated in 1962 and visited by more than two million people annually. Accessible only by boat, it straddles the sunken hull of the battleship without touching it. Historical information about the attack, shuttle boats to and from the memorial, and general visitor services are available at the associated USS Arizona Memorial Visitor Center, which opened in 1980 and is operated by the National Park Service. The sunken remains of the battleship were declared a National Historic Landmark on 5 May 1989. [source 1 2]
O'ahu - Honolulu - Pearl Harbor: USS Arizona Memorial. Image credit Wally Gobetz
The 184-foot long structure has two peaks at each end connected by a sag in the center of the 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. 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 initially called the design a "squashed milk carton".
The USS Arizona Memorial was designed by Honolulu architect Alfred Preis, he explained, "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." [source]
The Park Service, as part of its Centennial Initiative celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2016, is developing a "mobile park" to tour the continental United States to increase exposure of the park. The mobile park will also collect oral histories of the attack on Pearl Harbor. The Arizona memorial is one of the nine major historical sites incorporated into the wide-ranging World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, established by Congress in 2008 and dedicated on 7 December 2010. [source]
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