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Harrow185's avatar

Why is the USS Arizona memorial important/significant?

Asked by Harrow185 (298points) June 16th, 2010

I know that the main reason why it’s significant and or important, is because its there to commemorate all the fallen crew members in the bombing. But why else may it be a significant memorial in America? Sorry for the short description, I don’t know what else to include about it.

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9 Answers

srmorgan's avatar

Ever heard of World War II?
Ever learned where it began?
Ever learned where over a thousand innocent sailors are spending eternity?
Ever heard of the ‘sneak attack” by the Japs?
Ever asked an old person where they were when they heard about Pearl Harbor?

We create memorials to honor the dead and to make note of their sacrifice.
That is why the Arizona memorial is important.

jaytkay's avatar

I imagine Pearl Harbor felt a lot like 9/11, fundamentally undermining peoples’ sense of security.

I was looking at framed newspapers with pictures of the devastation at Pearl Harbor and my dad said, “look at the date.” It was December 1942. The pictures familiar to us were hidden from the US public for a year.

Life Magazine – December 14, 1942— Pearl Harbor Damage Revealed

PandoraBoxx's avatar

In addition to being a memorial to the sailors that died there, it’s a memorial to America failing to heed the warnings, and the carnage that resulted because of it. It functions as a reminder that America is not infallible.

srmorgan's avatar

Just as an aside,
For the generation of my grandparents and parents, the question was “where were you when you heard about Pearl Harbor?”
For us, Baby Boomers, it was “where were you when you heard John Kennedy was shot?” The answer for me was 9th grade English
For all of us, “where were you when you heard or saw the Towers collapse?” is the question with the same weight of meaning.

These are the tragedies of a lifetime, events that mark pivotal points in American history.

Maybe for previous generations the question concerned when you learned the market crashed in 1929 or when you heard about the torpedoing of the Lusitania or the sinking of the Titanic or sabotage of the USS Maine in Havana or where were you when you heard Lincoln had been shot.

filmfann's avatar

@jaytkay The severity of the damage was also hidden from our enemies. Why tell them how badly hurt we were?
As I recall, one of the ships not damaged at Pearl Harbor became a pivotal part of the Midway battle. Had Japan known what was damaged, they would have known what wasn’t.
These are common practices in war. As the saying goes: the first casualty of war is the truth.

jaytkay's avatar


Good point. The US aircraft carriers were absent.

While navies were still centered around battleships, the opening of the Pacific war was the perfect illustration of the future:
1) Your carriers are your most potent weapon
2) Your opponent’s carriers are your worst fear

Nullo's avatar

It’s excellent homework-question fodder. :\

Dr_C's avatar

The memorial is important and significant for all the reasons mentioned above, it serves as a reminder of the sacrifice of all the souls that now rest within her hull, the treachery of a nation that claimed to be an ally, and the resolve of the American people in rebounding from tragedy, coming together and grasping victory from the jaws of impending failure.

To me however it has an added significance. I visited the memorial for the first time in 1988 with my father. It had been one of the most memorable trips we’d taken and the experience was indelibly etched into my consciousness. My father left us when in 1996. In the sumer of 2005 I bought tickets to Honolulu to visit one of my best friends stationed at Scofield barracks (another of the places hit that day in 1941)... I was to leave on July 15th. On July 10th I got a visit from an aunt I hadn’t seen in 15 years… she came to tell me my father had died on June 10th… exactly a month before. 5 Days later I found myself in Honolulu and after dropping my luggage off at the hotel rented a car and drove to Pearl Harbor.

I said goodbye to my father for the last time while aboard the memorial. I retraced our visit exactly and recreated the pictures we took leaving space where he would have stood. I found myself standing on the edge of the memorial looking down on the wreck when a little girl looked up at me and asked why I was crying (I was wearing rather large sunglasses at the time). I’ll always associate that place with one of the happiest and most bittersweet memories I have of my father.

mzgator's avatar

When I visited the memorial a few years ago and saw several WW2 vets, I was so proud to be an American. Several of the living survivors have chosen to have their remains placed with those who died that day. They were young men who were surprised by the attack. They fought bravely, and some gave their own lives in order to save other Americans. The nurses were also heroes. They worked tirelessly to help the wounded with very little supplies. I felt honored to pay my respects to these heroes.

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