At 8:30 A.M. on December 7th 1941, one hundred and seventy Japanese torpedo bombers attacked the U.S. Naval fleet at Pearl Harbor. The battleship Arizona was hit with an armor-piercing bomb which hit ammunition stored in the forward compartment, destroying and sinking the ship in seconds.  It was one of eight battleships anchored at Pearl Harbor, four of which went down with the Arizona. The other three were badly damaged. Overall, nine ships of the U.S. fleet were sunk and twenty-one were severely damaged. Three of the twenty-one could not be repaired. The death toll reached two thousand four hundred and two and one thousand two hundred and eighty two wounded, including sixty-eight civilians. Of the military personnel lost at Pearl Harbor, one thousand one hundred and seventy-seven were from the Arizona. Today, the men who did not have a chance to escape the sinking Arizona lay in the watery depths of Pearl Harbor aboard the Arizona herself.

When we arrived at Pearl Harbor, we immediately went to start our tour. There were several rooms filled with models of the sunken battleships, replicas of the torpedos used by the Japanese and screens playing interviews from survivors and witnesses. We wound our way through the galleries, all the while listening to the tragic tales told by the survivors. As we reached the end of the galleries, I noticed a rusty metal object in a glass case. As I approached, I realized what it was. A torpedo. It wasn’t just any torpedo, however, it was the very torpedo that had sunk the Arizona. It had been recovered from the ship and put on display. It was truly an amazing sight. The metal was rusted and part of the torpedo was missing, but to see that 71 years later the torpedo was still here was incredible.

We then boarded the boat, and headed towards the Arizona memorial. Once on the memorial, you were able to look over the railing and see the U.S.S. Arizona right underneath you. Covered in coral and seaweed, the ship is an amazing sight. Parts of the ship come up above the water, making you feel as if you’re standing on its decks. In the memorial, there is a wall with the names of all the dead written on it. Until I saw the wall, 1,177 was just a number. After seeing the wall, I realized just how many people died that day.

Each time a survivor of the Arizona dies, they are buried in the Arizona alongside their shipmates.

After learning about Pearl Harbor, being able to actually visit the site of this tragic event was unbelievable. It was an amazing day.

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