The Navy launch slowly pulled away from the USS Arizona Memorial pier and proceeded to the glistening white edifice in the distant. As we approached, emotions overwhelmed me. I gazed upon the waters covering the broken hull of the USS Arizona BB-39 and my thoughts returned to 7 December 41.
I heard the cries of every man who died.
I felt the pain they felt.
I cried the tears shed in longing for the loved ones that will never be seen or heard again.
As their souls left their earthly bonds,
I felt the omnipresence of the Almighty.
50 years have passed and the pain remains.
I looked down on the weather deck of the Arizona and did not see the rusting hulk but the teakwood deck bleached white from holy stoning with sand, brick and salt water. The glistening brass was flawless from many hours of 'bright work' by her crew. I saw the spotless superstructure, foremast and the mainmast. I felt the same "Espirit de Corps" her crew still feels.
I felt a part of her was a part of me.
The foremast was the heart of the Arizona. The life blood flowed from the Captains bridge through every division from the 'deck apes' to the 'black gang'.
As the day of Infamy dawned, the USS Arizona was calm. It was the beginning of the normal Sunday routine. The old girl was relaxing in the early morning sunlight along with her crew except for those on duty. On the fantail, the ship's band prepared to play for the raising of the National Ensign -- AND THEN -- devastation and tragedy descended upon our grey lady and she fought back. SHE DID FIGHT BACK!
Captain Franklin Van Valkenburg and RADM Issac C. Kidd were on their respective bridges. Men were at their battle stations. She was strafed and bombed. The final death dealing projectile struck the starboard side of the number 2 turret, penetrated the steel deck and ignited the black powder in the magazine below. The massive blast shook the 34,000 ton, 608 ft. super dreadnought from stem to stern, raised her 40 feet into the air -- she shuddered -- burning she settled back into the mud of Pearl Harbor, her back broken, taking 1177 young lives with her.
The steel of her forward deck peeled back like the petals of a flower.
The foremast, the heart of the ship, looked down on the inferno and her dead crew. Her heart broken, she bowed her head...and died.