Sunday, May 24, 2009
In observance of Memorial Day tomorrow, I'm posting a few pictures of the USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor. My upcoming book, The Clearing, partly takes place in 1944 -- so I made it a point to head out to the monument last month, and it really brought home to me the sacrifices of our men and women who fought in WWII and the other wars since then. Not to mention those who are serving our country here and abroad in harm's way.
The Arizona Memorial is a floating memorial that sits above the wreckage of the ship. It's a very modern, minimalistic monument that you can walk inside, and even look down into viewing wells that show pieces of the rusting ship below. Even today, gallons and gallons of oil and other debris are leaking from the ship at the bottom of the harbor.
You take a little boat that brings you from the visitor's center to the memorial, and walk onto the monument itself. An open air design gives the feeling of being in a hallowed place, almost like a chapel. And considering the Arizona is the final resting place of many servicemen, it's fitting.
The crowd that comes out to see the monument is varied. Young and old, veterans and civilians, Americans and foregin folks -- all visiting to pay their respects and solemnly acknowledge the tragedy of war.
The wall of names is especially touching. The military used to allow brothers (and even fathers and sons) to serve on the same ship. So, this wall has many last names that are the same -- families that endured a double loss that day in 1941. It's a stark reminder of the horrible price we pay during wartime.
I hope you will find time during this fun, relaxing weekend, to thank a veteran you know, or at least to send some prayers or good thoughts out to the men and women in uniform.
I'm touched by their sacrifice.