One of the highlights while being stationed at Schofield Barracks in the 60’s while with the 25th Infantry Division was the day I visited the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor.
The memorial was dedicated in 1962 after the money needed to erect the memorial was raised by a combination of government funding and private funding.
Elvis Presley held a benefit concert on March 25, 1961 which raised $54,000 toward the cost of building the memorial.
The most significant memory for me was realizing that there were men that were entombed in the ship that would never receive a proper burial. Only 229 bodies of the 1,167 that died that day have been recovered with the rest still entombed inside the ship.
Oil still seeps from the wreckage since half a million gallons of oil were reportedly aboard the ship when it sank and that oil can be seen 69 years later.
Each crew member’s name is engraved at the memorial. 24 crew members have had their ashes interred in the wreckage so they could be buried with their shipmates.
The attack on Pearl Harbor precipitated the participation of America in World War II. President Roosevelt declared war on Japan and Germany after the attack and it would be May 8, 1945 before the war would end in Germany and August 15 of the same year would be the last day of the war with Japan.
Historians can only wonder whether America would have been involved in World War II if the Japanese had not attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Like President Roosevelt stated after the attack that day would live in infamy.
What we do know is that over 418,000 American lives were lost in the war which would last three years and eight months.
It goes without saying that December 7, 1941 was one of the most significant days in world history.