Honoring the fallen at Pearl Harbor

Veterans Voices

HONOLULU, Hawaii (KHON) — It’s the resting place of more than 1,100 American sailors and marines killed during the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. And every year, nearly 2 million people visit the USS Arizona Memorial, to pay their respects, and honor the lives lost.

“I just lost my dad who was a veteran, and I just wanted to come and pay some kind of respect,” said Dawn Carmello, Hawaii resident.

The 184-foot USS Arizona Memorial honors the memory of the crew as well as other service members and civilians who died during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

To ensure this landmark continues to be preserved, about 40 staff members, and numerous volunteers, work daily to care for the memorial.

“We have volunteers go out to Honouliuli and they make sure that the trails are clean, so people can go out and navigate those trails,” said Jay Blount of the Pearl Harbor National Memorial. “We have volunteers who help with handing out tickets and some of them really love to be out on the USS Arizona Memorial itself to provide historical information about people who fought and died on the Arizona on Dec. 7.”

Recently, several large groups of volunteers, including Navy personnel and their families, helped scrub the decks, repaint and reopen the memorial and dock. It was closed for more than a year due to damage caused by king tides.

“And together those 130 individuals contributed to about $20,000 in labor to the re-beautification effort out here at the USS Arizona Memorial,” Blount said. “That included painting the entire interior, parts of the exterior, removing rust, polishing stainless steel, rails and handles out on the memorial.”

But it’s not just large groups helping to maintain the memorial. There are also individuals, like Mack Humphery, who has been volunteering for seven years, despite being offered a paid position.

“I make enough money as it is to live and enjoy life. Why should I make more? I feel better volunteering,” he said. “They have a good time, I have a good time, and I can help people.”

Manning the memorial, doesn’t just mean everyday care, but also, long-term maintenance.

One of the projects on the horizon is a new $4 million dock at the Pearl Harbor Visitors Center.

“Which is really important because it’s well known that the dock at the USS Arizona Memorial anchoring system was recently replaced,” Blount said. “So, once we’re able to replace that short side dock, which is part of the cyclical replacement of that structure, we’ll be having two brand new docks.”

Projects like that, and staff and volunteers, are what’s necessary to maintain the memorial so this landmark and the lives lost are always remembered.

For more information on the Pearl Harbor National Memorial, how to visit, and tips on getting tickets for the free tours, visit https://www.nps.gov/valr/index.htm

The USS Arizona Memorial is just one of the historic sites to see at Pearl Harbor. For more visit https://www.pearlharborhistoricsites.org/

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