Originally Published: December 7, 2013 6:01 a.m.
With all the festivities going on around us as the holiday season begins, we cannot forget a day 72 years ago, Dec. 7, 1941, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, propelling the United States into World War II.
Arizona can especially relate to this horrific day, because the ship we sponsored, the USS Arizona, was hit and sunk in the attack, entombing forever the bodies of 1,105 Navy personnel. The upwards of 350 Japanese airplanes that assaulted U.S. military and naval facilities at Pearl Harbor killed 2,242 U.S. service personnel, left 960 missing, wounded 1,272, sunk or damaged all eight battleships in the harbor and destroyed 151 American planes. This destruction took less than two hours, but will be indelible for all time in the history of America and World War II.
Pearl Harbor was, in the most genuine sense, "a day of infamy."
Despite its loss, the USS Arizona is memorialized at its final resting place in Pearl Harbor. The 184-foot memorial structure spans the mid portion of the sunken battleship and comprises three main sections: the entry room, the assembly room, a central area for ceremonies and general observation and the shrine room. It is in this last room where the names of those killed on the Arizona are engraved on a marble wall.
The architect of the memorial, Alfred Preis, said, in describing his design, "Wherein the structure sags in the center but stands strong and vigorous at the ends, expresses initial defeat and ultimate victory. The overall effect is one of serenity. Overtones of sadness have been omitted to permit the individual to contemplate his own personal responses ... his innermost feelings."
Even though the USS Arizona has been decommissioned, it stands high because it commemorates all the military personnel who died at Pearl Harbor.
Arizonans can now take pride in having a piece of that history - a World War II memorial that is to be dedicated today at Wesley Bolin Plaza at the state Capitol in Phoenix.
Just two years ago, the last surviving gun barrel from the USS Arizona and another from the USS Missouri were found rusting in a Navy storage yard in Virginia. It became Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett's mission to bring the guns to Arizona in order to incorporate them in the memorial. The guns represent the beginning of the war at Pearl Harbor and the end of the war, when the peace treaty was signed on the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay on Sept. 2, 1945. The guns are installed between the anchor of the USS Arizona and its signal mast already in place on the plaza.
We thank all of those who made this memorial possible.
And we thank all who died serving our country on that fateful day - Dec. 7, 1941.