USS Arizona Memorial

From Academic Kids

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USS Arizona Memorial is bathed by the lights of ‘Aiea on the evening of the 62nd anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 2003.

The USS Arizona Memorial, located at Pearl Harbor, Hawai'i, is a National Historic Landmark administered by the U.S. National Park Service. The monument memorializes the resting place of 1,102 sailors killed on the USS Arizona during the Attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941 by Japanese imperial forces and also the events of this day. The memorial spans the sunken hull of the battleship without touching it. The attack on Pearl Harbor was the action that forced United States involvement in World War II.


National Monument

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A tomb and a memorial

There are three main parts to the national monument: entry, assembly room, and shrine. At the entry, visitors pass the battleship's bell. The central assembly room contains an opening in the floor overlooking the sunken decks of the oil-seeping wreck. It is from this opening that visitors come to pay their respects by tossing flowers and leis in honor of the fallen soldiers. Every President of the United States since Franklin D. Roosevelt, and every Emperor of Japan since Hirohito, has made a pilgrimage to the site. The shrine at the far end is a marble wall that bears the names of all those killed on the USS Arizona, protected behind velvet ropes and guards of honor. A new flag is hoisted each morning over the monument using a main mast recovered from the USS Arizona.

The national monument was designed by Alfred Preis. The structure has two peaks at each end connected by a sag in the center of the structure. 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. The architecture of the USS Arizona Memorial is explained by Preis as, "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."

With intense fundraising by private individuals beginning in 1950, the USS Arizona Memorial was finally dedicated in 1962 by President John F. Kennedy and Hawai'i Governor John A. Burns.

Manning the Rails

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Crew of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln man the rails as the ship enters Pearl Harbor on August 1, 2002. Manning the rails is a solemn tradition of the military in honor of the Arizona's fallen. The battleship USS Missouri is visible behind to the memorial on the right side of the photograph.

Every United States Navy, Coast Guard, Merchant Marines vessel entering Pearl Harbor participates in the tradition of manning the rails. Personnel serving on these ships stand at attention at the rails and salute the USS Arizona Memorial in solemn fashion as their ship slowly glides into port. More recently, as foreign military vessels are entering Pearl Harbor for joint military exercises, foreign troops have participated in the traditional "manning the rails".

USS Missouri

In 1999, the battleship USS Missouri was moved to Pearl Harbor from the United States west coast and docked near and perpendicular to the USS Arizona Memorial. Upon the deck of the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay, the Japanese surrendered to United States General Douglas MacArthur, ending World War II. The pairing of the two ships became an evocative symbol of the beginning and end of the United States' participation in one of the greatest wars the world had ever seen.

The pairing of the two ships has not been free from controversy, however. Memorial staff have criticized the placement of the Missouri, saying the large battleship would "overshadow" the Arizona Memorial. [1] (



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