Tuesday, December 7, 2010

69 Years Ago

(photos by Gary)

I've been fortunate enough to have had several business trips to Hawaii. One of the must-see things, of course, is the memorial to the USS Arizona, which was sunk during the surprise Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor 69 years ago today, on 7 Dec 1941.  From the National Park Service web site:

The USS Arizona is the final resting place for many of the ship's 1,177 crewmen who lost their lives on December 7, 1941. 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.



It's a quiet, hushed, almost reverent place. It's hard to imagine the bedlam and fury of that day. One of the things that moved me the most was seeing the list of survivors who chose upon their deaths to be buried with their shipmates from 1941.

Crewmembers who were assigned to the USS Arizona on December 7, 1941, have the right to have their cremated remains interred inside the barbette of gun turret four by National Park Service divers. If you were a crewmember before that infamous day, you have the right to have your ashes scattered over the ship. In both cases, the common thread is that these men were at one time in their navy careers assigned to the USS Arizona. This policy is strictly enforced by the USS Arizona Reunion and Survivor Association. (In addition, any Pearl Harbor survivor can have their ashes scattered over the place in the harbor where their ship was located during the attack). On April 12, 1982, the ashes of retired Navy Chief Petty Officer Stanley M. Teslow were interred, becoming the first USS Arizona survivor to return to his ship. By mid 2006, 28 surviving crewmembers have rejoined their shipmates in simple and private ceremonies, complete with a two-bell ceremony from the Fleet Reserve Association; a rifle salute from the U.S. Navy or Marine Corps; and a benediction with the echo of Taps being played across the harbor. The services are conducted inside the memorial and consist of an invocation, funeral ceremony, and a flag presentation to the family. Following the ceremony, the urn is carried from the memorial to the dock area and presented to divers, who swim the urn into the open barbette of gun turret number four and proceed to a large open "slot" that measures approximately 6" x 5'. The urn is placed into this slot and slides into the ship.

Drops of oil float to the surface to this day:
 
Again, from the NPS site:
There were 1.4 million gallons of fuel on the USS Arizona when she sank. Over 60 years later, approximately nine quarts still surfaces from the ship each day. Some Pearl Harbor survivors have referred to the oil droplets as "Black Tears."

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