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The USS Arizona Memorial is a site in Pearl Harbor which is dedicated to the seamen who died in the Pearl Harbor attack of 7 December, 1941. In addition to being a memorial site, the USS Arizona Memorial is also a designated military graveyard, with an estimated 1,100 sailors buried underwater at the site, along with the remains of the USS Arizona. Visitors are welcome at the memorial, which is open every day of the year except for New Year's Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.
When Pearl Harbor was attacked, the USS Arizona was badly damaged, thanks to a series of bombs which triggered explosions in the ship's magazines, the locations where munitions are stored. The combination of the ferociously burning fires and the ship's sinking killed over 1,400 sailors, making the USS Arizona one of the most lethal sites in the Pearl Harbor attack.
Initially, much of the ship stuck out above the water, and after removing part of the ship's superstructure, the Navy was unsure about what to do next. While salvage operations could have been used to pull the USS Arizona up and out of the water, concerns were raised because of the dead sailors inside, and ultimately the Navy decided to retain the ship as it was, and to build a memorial around it. The USS Arizona Memorial was dedicated in 1962, and it is one of the most popular spots to visit on the island of Oahu today.
The memorial itself is a large, sweeping structure which spans the wreck of the USS Arizona without actually touching it. Visitors are taken to the memorial by boat, and allowed to explore it at leisure; the site has a number of windows with dramatic views of the wreck and the harbor, along with a large marble wall inscribed with the names of the dead from Pearl Harbor. By tradition, all American ships which pass the USS Arizona Memorial salute the wreck of the Arizona, and many foreign ships have adopted the practice as well.
Visiting the USS Arizona Memorial can be an intense and powerful experience. It can also provide a unique glimpse into living history, thanks to living World War Two veterans who volunteer at the site. The USS Arizona itself began to deteriorate quite badly in the early 21st century, raising concerns about pollution, and the National Parks Service has an extensive conservation program which is intended to preserve the ship as best as possible. Even with these conservation efforts, the ship does leak oil, creating slicks which are sometimes referred to as the “tears of the Arizona.”
Many visitors come to the Arizona Memorial site in Honolulu, and pay their respects to those who have lost their lives so many years ago. Summers in particular, are crowded with visitors. It is really a powerful place to visit.
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