|Photo Credit: USS Arizona Memorial (aerial view) by DoD photo by: PH3(AW/SW) JAYME PASTORIC, USN, Licensed under Public Domain via Wikipedia Commons|
|USS Arizona Memorial|
Preis explained the shape with the lower height in the middle as being symbolic of the attack on Pearl Harbor as a low point in US history with higher points at the ends before and after. The design was not without critics. Some described it as looking like a "squashed milk carton". I must confess, I find the exterior of the memorial rather ugly, but I have never really appreciated the architectural style of the 50s and 60s. The construction of the memorial was completed in 1961 and it was dedicated on Memorial Day in 1962.
The USS Arizona Memorial and Visitor Center are components of the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument which is managed by the National Park Service. Tours are free. Several thousand tickets are available each morning starting at 7:30 am at the visitor center on a first come, first served basis. Since there are up to 2 million visitors per year, tickets can go quickly. Tours start every 15 minutes and tickets are stamped with a specific tour time. There is also an online ticket reservation system in place for a limited number of tickets that can be purchased up to a day before the scheduled tour. The reservation system charges a small service fee (currently $1.50) for processing. To enhance the experience, headsets with a recorded narration can be rented and reserved.
I am typically an early bird, so I have always just arrived early in the morning and have never had a problem getting a ticket but the reservation system is a nice option if you aren't an early riser or have a tight schedule and want to make sure you won't be disappointed. An even easier option is to sign up for a tour that includes your ticket and round-trip transportation to the memorial from your Honolulu hotel.
There are some interpretive displays in the visitor center, but it was crowded and our tour was scheduled to begin so I didn't take any photos. The tour begins in the visitor center theater with a 20 minute film about the Pearl Harbor attack.
|Navy boat ferrying visitors to the USS Arizona Memorial|
|Entrance to the USS Arizona Memorial|
|USS Arizona Gun Turret #3|
The last area is the Shrine Room that features a simple marble wall engraved with the names of every sailor and marine from the USS Arizona that died as the result of the December 7th attack on Pearl Harbor. Like the Vietnam Memorial in Washington DC, the simple, unadorned design focuses the attention of visitors where it belongs, on the names of those who lost their lives. Contrary to a popular misconception, the Arizona is not still considered an active navy ship. It was decommissioned on December 1, 1942, but it has been designated as a US Military Cemetery. The flag flying above the memorial is attached to the broken main mast of the ship. All of the survivors who were stationed on the Arizona at the time the attack can request to have their ashes interred on the ship with their shipmates. Several have elected to do so and US Navy divers have delivered their ashes to gun turret #4 and then their names are listed on a separate plaque. Below is a short video about one of these internment ceremonies.
As of today, only 7 survivors are still alive. For anyone interested in World War II, there are several other related attractions at Pearl Harbor including the Pacific Aviation Museum, the USS Bowfin and Submarine Museum and the USS Missouri. These other exhibits charge entrance fees because they are owned and or managed by non-profit organizations. There are Pearl Harbor tour packages that offer transportation and entrance fees to all of the Pearl Harbor exhibits.
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