Hi everyone and welcome to todays post. Sixty nine years ago on December 7th, 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and other military installations on the island of Oahu. The attack was the culmination of nearly ten years of deteriorating relations between Japan and the United States. The attack to immobilize the Pacific Fleet was integral to Japan’s continued expansion into Asia and the western Pacific. Opposed to Japan’s expansion the United States exercised diplomatic pressure and severe trade sanctions all to no avail. By the summer of 1941 both countries were entrenched in their positions and retreat was impossible without loss of national prestige. For Japan war was the only option.
At 7:55 am, December 7th, 1941, the first wave of the Japanese attack arrived at Pearl Harbor. At 8:06 a 1,706-pound armor-piercing bomb dropped through the forward deck of the USS Arizona and into the ammunition magazine. The incredible explosion ripped the ship apart and ignited a firestorm. She sank within 9 minutes along with 1,177 members of its crew. As the attack continued the USS Oklahoma sank with 400 members of its crew. California and West Virginia sank at their mooring quays, and the USS Utah sank along with 50 members of its crew. The devastation to the fleet continued as the Maryland, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Nevada suffered significant damage. Twenty one vessels were sunk or damaged and American dead totaled 2,390. It was the United States Navy’s greatest defeat.
Today the USS Arizona is the final resting place for many of the ships 1,177 crewman. The 184 foot long memorial structure spans the mid-portion of the sunken battleship. Designed by architect Alfred Preis, the memorial was completed in 1961. As a special tribute to the ship and its crew, the United States flag flies from the flagpole, which is attached to the severed mainmast of the sunken battleship.
December 7th, 2010 marks the 69th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. The site has undergone major construction over the last 4 years and includes a redesign of all the facilities including new exhibits and visitor services. Today World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument includes the USS Arizona Memorial, the USS Oklahoma Memorial, and the USS Utah Memorial.
The image was shot from Ford Island at sunset. Heavy clouds had blanketed the site and rain fell off and on for most of the day. As I set up I did not think there would be any light from the setting sun. But as if on que the clouds cleared from the horizon and a beautiful shaft of sunlight illuminated the memorial. It was gone in 30 seconds. As the light faded I was reminded of Alfred Preis’s words in describing the memorial “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”. Like a shining beacon this last light of the day reminded me of the severe cost of war and that we must never forget those who stood in harms way and made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedom.
Thank you for stopping by today.