The USS Arizona.
It’s hard to imagine her standing proudly, towering above the waves. She rests so quietly now, just beneath the very water that once kept her afloat. The USS Arizona. Her name brings a slow solemnity over one’s heart, and to see her, an eerie sense of calm. The chaos and destruction that brought her to her knees, dragging a thousand sailors and Marines down with her, smoking and burning. Now look at her.
Softly sitting beneath the calm waters of Pearl Harbor, she looks both proud and sad. Everything above her main deck is gone, her gun turrets stand empty, just out of the water, rusty, and a reminder that she was once the most powerful class of ship in the United States Navy. Buoys mark her bow and stern, the better for visitors to gauge the true size of this ocean monster, but they do little but offer a small piece of reference. A ship is more than its length. A ship is its crew, and this ship continues to weep and bleed for the men she lost. Looking out over the quiet water above her deck, it’s easy to spot the small droplets of oil, rising to the surface in an amorphous tumble, and spreading into little pools as they break the surface. It’s easy to watch the USS Arizona cry. It’s hard to look away. It’s hard not to weep for the men who undoubtedly fought their ship till the end, and will lay with her forever.
The USS Missouri stands behind her, two sisters, marking the beginning and the end of World War II. The Missouri watches over her older sister, her bow facing the Arizona. She is a reminder that we do not forget, that we will never leave our shipmates alone and in the dark, even in death.
So on this day, many will remember the USS Arizona, children will learn of her in school, and people will visit her in person, 4,500 of them, as there are each day. I feel privileged to have seen her while I was serving my country. I feel she has special meaning to those who have served in the Navy. Those are our brothers down there. As close as those who stand beside us on our own ships. It’s a beautiful sadness. The pain that we feel at their loss, but also the pride, that their sacrifice was not for nothing. We remember those who fought on the USS Arizona, and all over Pearl Harbor today, and we thank them for their service and sacrifice, for many, the ultimate sacrifice.
I wanted to post something for Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, especially since I’ve actually been to the Arizona. I went there in 2009 for a friend’s re-enlistment onboard (well, in the memorial building). I took a few pictures while we were there:
I want to thank any active duty, retired, or veterans (like me) for their service, their sacrifice, and their fulfillment of duty.