The USS Arizona Memorial serves to remember the lives lost in the terrible attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941. The site of the memorial is the resting place for over 1000 crewmen who were aboard the ship. Designed by architect, Alfred Preis, the memorial makes sacred ground at sea. Just as the water can offer reflection, the memorial serves as a place to reflect on the events and the lives sacrificed on that fateful day. The characteristics of the structure provide a very serene environment for these reflections to take place.
Through the compressed entrance the architect has created the feeling of arriving on the deck of the USS Arizona. It is as if he wanted you to feel what the crewman felt and experience their final moments. As you pass through the entrance onto the “deck” the structure opens up all around, the crisp, smooth white gives a feeling of peacefulness. From the beautiful deck, the decaying remains of the sunken USS Arizona are visible and are a reminder of the atrocious attack on that day. To me, the two opposing views tell a story of resilience. On one side of the water is a graveyard from a time of war, on the other side is a symbol of strength and peace.
The American flag flies over the center of the memorial, just as the flag flew over the USS Arizona, as if it is an extension from the sunken ship, reaching from the depths of the sea to the sky, proclaiming victory.
Perhaps the most moving part of the memorial is the marble wall with the names of all the crewmen who were lost in the attack. The marble is strong and hard, just as the men defending our country. The caption reads “To the gallant men here entombed and their shipmates who gave their lives in action.” This statement solidifies the purpose of this artistic response to war, to allow people to reflect and pay their respects to the heroes who paid the ultimate sacrifice.