It has been more than 10 years now since I have visited Pearl Harbor and the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial. Growing up in Honolulu, I have visited the Memorial more times than I can remember. Yet, I am struck by how much the battleship sunk in the attack still moves me.
As I've stood on the gleaming white bridge that spans Arizona I've watched countless people react, reflect and think about what happened on this spot, so many years ago. I've looked down on the ship, to see gun emplacements, open hatches, and droplets of oil floating to the surface. The flagpole that towers over the Memorial is attached to the severed mainmast of the ship and is not attached to the Memorial. In the portion of the mainmast that is visible, you can see a small ladder that leads into the ship.
At the rear of the Memorial is the Shrine Room, where the names of the men who were killed during the attack are listed. There are over 1,100 names on the white marble wall. At 7:55 that morning on December 7th, all were alive, by 8:15 most were not. These men woke up that morning at peace, found themselves at the start of World War 2 and are still serving (eternally) on board Arizona today.
I know that the countless millions of people who have visited the Memorial (including me) are able to leave that spot in Pearl Harbor and return to our families, friends and lives because so many of the men who served on Arizona and all of the men and women who were lost on December 7, 1941, were not able to.
So I'd like to just say "thank you" to all of the men and women who have served or are serving in our nation's armed forces. And to all of the men and women who laid down their lives for all of us, I hope we never forget the love they had for us, that they would die so that we could live.
"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."