USS Arizona Memorial HistoryProvided by Vincent James Vlach, Jr.

USS Arizona Memorial

Visit the Memorial

A visit to the Arizona Memorial is a solemn and sobering experience, even for those who were not alive when the attack occurred. You are literally standing over a grave site where over 900 men are still entombed. There are three sections in the memorial. The entry, an assembly room in the central part of the Memorial used for observation of the sunken ship and for ceremonies. many visitors drop flower leis into the water from this section honoring the dead. The third section is the Shrine Room. The room contains the names of all those killed on the Arizona and their names are engraved on a marble wall. For more information about visiting the Memorial please go to the National Park website.

In 1965, Pearl Harbor (not just the USS Arizona Memorial) became the only naval base to be honored as a National Landmark. This was in recognition of its "exceptional value in commemorating and illustrating the history of the United States." June 29, 1965, the Department of Interior presented a bronze plaque to the Navy officially registering Pearl Harbor as a national shrine. Ceremonies were held at the Arizona Memorial boat landing.

Memorial Day 1966, USS Arizona Survivor, Chief Warrant Officer John H. McCarron, unveiled the ship's bell which was installed in the museum room of the USS U.S. Navy divers. The battleship was torpedoed** on December 7, 1941." Due to deterioration of the wooded frame that supported the bell, it was removed from the memorial in July of 1993. The 1256 pound bell was placed on a new mount in the lobby of the Arizona Memorial visitor center with rededication on Memorial Day 1994. (**Note: See P.512 from "At Dawn We Slept" in June 1999 issue of At 'Em Arizona P.7 At Em October 1999 regarding death of USS Arizona. Japanese records reveal no torpedoes fired at Berth F7. Also see our Historian's Report on P.9 of same newsletter.) Another bell is installed in the loft of the Student Body Building at University of Arizona, Tucson. It is used each year to sound the toll of nine bells in memory of the nine men from the state still entombed on the ship.

Ships entering Pearl Harbor usually pass the Arizona. The Officer of the Deck calls the crew to attention and all hands salute the approximately 900 souls still at their battle stations on Arizona.

One of the anchors raised from the ship is displayed at the USS Arizona Visitor Center. This anchor was cast in Chester, Pennsylvania in 1911 and weighs 19,585 pounds. On December 7, 1976, another USS Arizona anchor was made into a memorial to honor the ship's crewmen. The anchor is located at Bolin Plaza, State Capitol, Phoenix, Arizona.

According to its architect, Alfred Preis, the design of the Memorial, "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 184-foot-long Memorial 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.

Contrary to popular belief, the Arizona was decommissioned and stricken from Navy registry on Dec. 1, 1942. 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 attack.

Remember the Arizona!
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