Monday, December 7, 2009


Last year, I got a chance to escort some ninth graders to the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor. This was part of their history in Hawaii course so we had about a hundred kids with us.
Now normally, you put more than three of these kids together and it borders on anarchy; things just seem ready to explode and get out of control.
Pearl Harbor does something to people though.
The USS Arizona Memorial especially.
The visitors center is quite small for a place that handles so many people, but they are going to renovate and expand it in the future. There's a small gift shop and museum, and a theatre where a short film is shown before a boat takes you out to the actual memorial.
The ride is short, maybe a couple of hundred yards. The battleship Missouri is(was) anchored across the way:

Big Mo is now in dry dock someplace in Pearl. Last time they ran a story on the news, it was covered in tarps for believe it or not, they are sandblasting the hull and they are doing the whole ship at one time.
That's a lot of tarp:

I have never visited the Big Mo, so I'm looking forward to it coming back all shiny and new like. Must see for next year.
The Memorial was built atop the resting place of USS Arizona. I won't go into details, you can read the National Parks Service website here.
I was one of those who believed the Arizona was still commissioned, that is not so. I guess I was lead to think that because the flag flies from the Arizona's main mast.
We got off the boat and stepped onto the Memorial proper.
The air is thick there:

The sections of the Arizona that were still above water were cut up and now rest in an undisclosed location on Ford Island.
You can still see a part of the gun turrets though:

A section of floor is open to the ocean below. From there you can see oil that is still leaking from the ship's bunkers:

It's difficult to imagine what it must have been like on that Sunday morning. It's also important to remember that Pearl Harbor was not the only installation to come under attack. If I remember correctly, Wheeler Air Force Base and the Marine Corps Base also fell under fire. You can see a picture I got of a small memorial on the Marine Corps Base here.
On the back wall of the Memorial, in a separate area, is a granite wall inscribed with the names of the men who lost their lives that day.
I was surprised by how the kids were acting. Their reactions to something that happened long before they were born was interesting to see. They seemed to grasp the gravity of the event, something they had only read about or seen on a screen, and were acting appropriately.
Which is not always the case.
Most of the images I got that day cannot be posted lest I violate some privacy laws. I had also handed a kid my camera to see if I could catch his perspective of the days events.
So much for that.
I did get one picture that I really liked.
First some background. The picture, much like Rosenthal's Iwo Jima picture was staged. The actual event did happen, but I was too slow on the draw to catch it. So, playing the (non)photo(major) journalist, I got the same kids together and told them to go back and stand there.
The present, remembering and reflecting upon the past:

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