Pearl Harbor attack 68th anniversary commemorated today: "Remembering the Battle"by: Sherie Char
posted: Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 12:38 AM
Before riding on a boat to the memorial, the tour began with a 22-minute historical film. It was like watching a movie that I already knew the ending to, but I was still caught off guard. When I saw the USS Arizona struck by an aerial bomb, unexpected tears filled my eyes. The explosion and black smoke engulfed the battleship. Watching the battle on the theater’s big screen was more powerful than reading about it in history class.
As we walked around the memorial, tears welled up in many eyes, including mine. The memorial is 184-feet long and divided into three sections: the entry room, the assembly room and the shrine room. Most visitors shy away from the shrine room because the carved names on the marble wall can be overwhelming. Next to the names of the fallen are the names of the USS Arizona survivors who requested to have their ashes scattered over the battleship. It was their way of reuniting with their shipmates.
“Actually, the ship in some ways is still alive,” says park historian Daniel Martinez. “When you see and smell that oil, you’ll be transported instantaneously to Dec. 7, 1941. It’s the same oil that has been leaking from the ship since then. Some people say the ship is still bleeding and others consider the oil to be sending a message to people.”
The ship’s oil, leaking into the harbor, is eerily interesting. Drops magically appeared on the water’s surface, some shiny silver, some as iridescent as a mother of pearl shell.
As we began to board the boat, it started to rain heavily. It was as if the heavens were crying, too. The dark clouds that filled the skies fit the somber mood. But the rainy weather didn’t dampen my experience, nor did it seem to bother the other visitors. It almost seemed appropriate as we departed the watery graveyard.
When we returned to shore, I was amazed to see how many films and books at the gift shop were about the Dec. 7 attack.
Hollywood has its own way of remembering the battle, with films like From Here to Eternity, Tora! Tora! Tora! and In Harm’s Way, but, according to Martinez, they are all pure fantasy. Even the 2001 film Pearl Harbor, to my dismay.
Check out these related HawaiiMagazine.com posts:
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HAWAII Magazine visits the USS Arizona Memorial
Hawaii observing 71st anniversary of Pearl Harbor attack with survivor-focused events