Honoring the Lost: Pearl Harbor National Memorial
From War to Peace
The Pearl Harbor Memorial is one of the well-known memorial buildings due to the combination of design, architecture, and history. On December 7, 1941, the small island port called Pearl Harbor in Oahu Hawaii was bombed by the Japanese. Over 2403 service personnel in the attack on the eight battleships moored in Battleship Row. The ships and crews attacked were from the USS Arizona, USS California, USS Maryland, USS Nevada, USS Oklahoma, USS Pennsylvania, USS Tennessee, and USS West Virginia. There were 21 military and non-military ships damaged or lost during this assault.
"Even after 79 years, the USS Arizona hull still leaks out small amounts of oil which have come to be known as “the tears of the Arizona.” (source)
Pearl Harbor National Memorial
"Several years later, the Navy came up with an idea for a memorial. They wanted something like a bridge and it had to be able to hold at least 200 people at one time." (source)
The USS Arizona, USS Oklahoma, and USS Utah were completely lost due to damage or extensive repairs required. These three battleships became the hub of the Pearl Harbor Memorial to represent the loss of life and ships.
The 184 feet long structure bows in the middle and rises on each end. The peaks at the end make the sagging in the middle more pronounced by design. The peak on the first side depicts the pride of America before the attack on Pearl Harbor. The valley in the middle of the monument shows the depression and shock felt after the reports of the bombing. The second peak on the far side of the memorial represents the return to power of the US after the war.
There are three room in the hall each having seven windows that are open floor to ceiling. Seven gives note to the date of the attack - December 7, 1941. In total, there are 21 windows throughout the memorial building in silent recognition of the military honor of a 21-gun salute. There is a hole in the center of the floor directly over the wreckage for those wishing to view or pay homage by dropping flowers for those lost.
The Architect of the Pearl Harbor Memorial
The architect behind the design of the memorial was Alfred Preis, an Austrian-born architect, who fled his homeland when Hilter invaded. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Preis spent three months in the Sand Island Detainment Camp due to the US policy of placing Japanese, Austrian, and German immigrants and citizens in camps.
The Pearl Harbor National Memorial receives over 1.5 million visitors per year.
"A formal day of dedication for the Pearl Harbor Memorial occurred in 1962 on Memorial Day. The memorial contains nine stations that represent various aspects of the war. The primary focus consists of two US Navy ships, the USS Arizona and the USS Missouri, representing where the war began and ended." (source)
Honoring those Lost
This is the list of the damage and losses to each ship in Battleship Row during the attack at Pearl Harbor. (source)
- Arizona: (flagship of Battleship Division One) hit by an armor-piercing bomb, exploded; total loss. 1,177 dead.
- Oklahoma: hit by five torpedoes, capsized; total loss. 429 dead. Refloated November 1943; capsized and lost while under tow to the mainland May 1947.
- West Virginia: hit by two bombs, seven torpedoes, sunk; returned to service July 1944. 106 dead.
- California: hit by two bombs, two torpedoes, sunk; returned to service January 1944. 100 dead.
- Nevada: hit by six bombs, one torpedo, beached; returned to service October 1942. 60 dead.
- Tennessee: hit by two bombs; returned to service February 1942. 5 dead.
- Maryland: hit by two bombs; returned to service February 1942. 4 dead (including floatplane pilot shot down).
- Pennsylvania (flagship of the U.S. Pacific Fleet): in drydock with Cassin and Downes, hit by one bomb, debris from USS Cassin; remained in service. 9 dead.
- Utah: hit by two torpedoes, capsized; total loss. 64 dead. Was commissioned as a target ship at the time of the attack and was docked on the west side of Ford Island, opposite Battleship Row.
Memorial Day: Origins & History
Pearl Harbor National Memorial is a unit of the National Park System of the United States on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. The John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act removed the site from the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument on March 12, 2019, and made it a separate national memorial. It has an area of 21.3 acres (0.086 km2). (source)
Memorial day is a day for Americans pause to honor and remember the valiant military people lost. In 1971, Memorial Day - always the last Monday in May - was established by Congress to honor those lost while serving in the military. Although we commonly think of military people lost during conflicts or wars, the observance of Memorial Day covered any service person who dies while in active duty.
Often confused with Veterans Day, for all who have worn a uniform in service of the United States, Memorial Day specifically remembers the fallen.
Find out more about the National Memorials throughout the USA.