History in Hawaii: USS Arizona

I'm a history person and my favorite thing about history is the stories. Hawaii is full of great history and this series of posts will be my take on it.

The Island is famous in our history because of the attack on Pearl Harbor. As we tell it that tragedy was the beginning of our involvement in combat in WWII. What we never talk about is that it was also the beginning of making Hawaii a combat zone.


This is the visitor's center where you start the journey out to the Arizona. It is a really surreal place since the memorial was built on top of the ship. The harbor is only 35 feet deep so even though the ship is about 10 feet deep in the mud it was so big that parts are still visible above the water. The ship is also leaking oil and has been since she sunk. It's only about 2 quarts of oil a day, but that's enough that you can see it in the water. Some say it's the tears of those that died on the ship.


That rusted out cylinder to the right of the memorial is part of the ship.

The oil leaking


I also learned that sailors who were off the ship and survived that day are allowed to be buried on it when they die. It's a common sentiment among some of these veterans to rejoin their brothers.

Another shot of the boat out of the water. Those white concrete structures you can see were mooring platforms for another battleship when the attack occurred.

The attack only lasted for 3 hours but it decimated the fleet of battle ships the navy had been using since the turn of the century. Despite the damage, the navy and local Hawaiians got to work and managed to get all but 3 ships back in service within six months. The only ships they didn't get back were the Arizona, the Utah, and the Missouri.

I found going out there to be really surreal. I've been to a concentration camp in Germany and this gave me a very similar vibe. I'm glad that I went, it's really important to bear witness when we can, but I don't think I will ever go again.

What do you think?

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