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USS Arizona Memorial

National Park Service photo by Bradford Baker

The battle-scarred and submerged remains of the battleship USS Arizona located just off the island of Oahu, Hawaii, are the focal point of a shrine erected by the United States to honor and commemorate all American servicemen killed in the Japanese air attack on the U.S. Naval Base at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. The USS Arizona, laid down at the New York Navy Yard and commissioned on October 17, 1916, as a part of the Atlantic Fleet, was sent to join the Pacific Fleet in 1921 where it remained until the end of its career. At 7:55am on December 7, 1941, the Japanese unleashed the first wave of an air attack on the United States. Under the command of Commander Mitsuo Fuchido, the Japanese hit Pearl Harbor, Hickam Air Force Base , Ewa, Wheeler Field and Kaneohe Air Base, catching the Army, Navy and Marine forces off guard.

[photo] The USS Arizona afire after the attack
Photo from National Historic Landmarks collection

The second wave, under the command of Lieutenant Commander Shigekazu Shimazaki, struck Bellows Airfield, Kanehoe, Hickam and Pearl Harbor approximately one hour later at 8:50am. Japanese torpedoes, bombs and projectiles slammed into ships, aircraft and men, wreaking a terrible toll. The USS Arizona suffered from several hits and around 8:10am the battleship was dealt its deathblow, a 1,760-pound armor-piercing bomb that slammed through its deck and ignited its forward ammunition magazine. The Arizona reportedly received eight more bomb hits as it sank. When the attack was over, American losses totaled at least eight battleships, three light cruisers, three destroyers and four auxiliary craft either sunk, capsized or damaged, 188 aircraft lost and 159 damaged, and 2,403 killed or missing and 1,178 wounded. Approximately half of the dead came from the USS Arizona, with fewer than 200 of the 1,117 aboard surviving. As a result of this attack, the United States entered World War II and defeated Japan in 1945 following the dropping of two nuclear weapons at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In 1962 a memorial was constructed and by 1980 visitation had increased so much that legislation was passed that authorized the National Park Service to operate the new USS Arizona Memorial.

The USS Arizona Memorial, a National Historic Landmark located at Pearl Harbor Naval Base and administered by the National Park Service, is located off State Hwy. 99 (Kamehameha Hwy.) about a 45-minute drive west of Waikiki, Hawaii. The memorial is open daily 7:30am to 5:00pm. Please call 808-422-0561, or visit the park's website for further information.

The USS Arizona Memorial is the subject of an online-lesson plan produced by Teaching with Historic Places, a National Register program that offers classroom-ready lesson plans on properties listed in the National Register. To learn more, visit the Teaching with Historic Places home page.

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