Take a Dive Into the History Behind the USS Arizona
The final resting place for 1,102 sailors killed in the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, the USS Arizona today serves as a memorial for Japan’s surprise attack on the United States. Intended to prevent the U.S. from getting involved with assaults it was planning against Southeast Asia territories, the assault killed 2,402 Americans, and wounded 1,282. The following day, on December 8, 1941 the United States declared war on Japan.
Funding for the memorial was approved by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1958, and construction was completed in 1961 with public funds appropriated by Congress and private donations. The memorial was dedicated in 1962.
In honor of the ship and her crew, the United States flag flies from a flagpole attached to the severed mainmast of the sunken battleship. Today the USS Arizona Memorial commemorates all military personnel who died in the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Designed by Honolulu architect Afred Preis, the 184-foot memorial appears to float above the sunken ship. The memorial has two peaks at each end, which represents the height of America’s pride prior to World II, the nation’s depression following the attack, and the rise of American power following the war’s conclusion.
The memorial spans the mid-section of the underwater battle ship and includes three sections: the entry room; a central area for ceremonies and general observation; and a shrine room where guests can view the names of those killed on the USS Arizona engraved on the memorial’s marble walls. The small plaque to the side includes the names of the crew members who survived the attack and chose to have their ashes interred within the wreck by U.S. Navy divers.
The center of the memorial features an opening in the floor which looks down onto the sunken ship. Here, visitors are able to pay their respects and release loose flowers into the water.
Today, the memorial is accessible only by boat. All guests to the USS Arizona Memorial must go through the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument. The destination consistently ranks in the top three most-visited tourist sites in Hawaii, attracting 4,000 guests on average each day.
Hours: Open daily from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. (except Thanksgiving Day, December 25 and January 1). Programs to the USS Arizona Memorial run from 8 a.m. through 3 p.m. daily.
Busy Periods: Visitors to the USS Arizona Memorial increase during summer and winter holidays as well as during spring break.
Security: Security measures prohibit bags including purses, handbags, fanny packs, backpacks, camera bags, diaper bags and luggage that can conceal items. Bringing cameras, cell phones and wallets are allowed, though guests are encouraged to pack lightly.
A storage facility which is operated by the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park is available at the entrance to the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center with a $3 storage fee per bag. The facility is open from 6:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily.
Dress: The USS Arizona Memorial and Pearl Harbor Visitor Center saw a tremendous loss of life. While sandals are permitted, guests are discouraged from wearing inappropriate or extremely revealing attire such as bathing suits or profane t-shirts.