Saturday, December 10, 2005

 

Attack on Pearl Harbor: 64 years later

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Tucson Citizen
By Jahna Berry
December 07, 2005

Rebuilding memorial: USS Arizona fund-raiser below $1M
Many old battlefields are grassy memorials, with few echoes of the carnage that took place.
Not the USS Arizona, underwater archaeologist Larry Murphy says.

When a Japanese air attack struck the battleship on Dec. 7, 1941, the USS Arizona exploded, burned and sank, with many of the 1,100 on board still entombed in the ship. As it slowly corrodes beneath the Pearl Harbor waters, the violence of that day is clear, he said.

"You can see the devastation. It looks exactly like what it is, a battle zone," said Murphy, chief of the National Park Service's Submerged Resources Center in Santa Fe, N.M., who has completed hundreds of dives to study the ship.

Murphy is the featured speaker today at a Pearl Harbor event at the Arizona Capitol Museum.
As Arizona remembers the attack at Pearl Harbor, the famous battleship that carries the state's name is foremost in many minds.

Next year will be the 65th anniversary of the tragedy. The state is in the midst of a $3 million fund-raiser, part of a $34 million national effort to rebuild the deteriorating memorial built above the sunken USS Arizona.

The state's effort is still below the $1 million mark, said Renee Palmer-Jones, a volunteer fund-raising consultant working for the Arizona Coordinating Committee for the Pearl Harbor Memorial Fund.

The group hopes to raise the total by December 2007, when organizers break ground for the new memorial.

"We gave ourselves two full years to raise that money, and we are off to a great start," she said.
Hawaii isn't the only place where Arizonans can get a glimpse of the USS Arizona.

A piece of the ship, photographs, artifacts and dazzling pieces of silver used by USS Arizona officers are on display at the capitol's museum.

The museum exhibit, which draws 60,000 visitors a year, holds an annual event to remember the attacks and to honor those who were lost.

This year, Murphy will talk about ongoing work to unravel and document how various forces affect the sunken ship.

Scientists continue to ponder a web of issues that surround the wreck, Murphy said.

Is there is a way to extend the life of the historic site? How does fuel, which continues to seep from the ship, affect the environment?

Murphy has been involved in research on the ship since 1983. His staff's work has shifted from documenting the state of the USS Arizona to studying and understanding the nature of the deterioration process.

On a dive, the gravity of the attack is never far from scientists' minds, he said.

"Each one of them has been very close to the loss that we suffered on Dec. 7, 1941, when 1,100 young lives were snuffed out," Murphy said.

The war on terrorism has made the losses at Pearl Harbor more poignant to everyday people, one official said.

"The celebration is more meaningful for everyone because of 9/11 and because we have people serving in the gulf war," said Brenda Brandt, education and community outreach manager for the Arizona Capitol Museum.

How to help
Here's how to make your donation toward Arizona's effort to raise $3 million for the damaged USS Arizona Memorial Museum and Visitor Center:

• Mail: Send a check payable to "ACC - Pearl Harbor Memorial Fund" to 1 Arizona Memorial Place, Honolulu, Hawaii 96818.

• Phone: Call toll free, (866) 332-1941 and identify yourself as an Arizona resident.

• Online: Use a credit card at http://www.pearlharbormemorial.com/. Billing addresses will identify Arizona donors.

• For more information, call Admiral (ret.) Ronald D. Tucker, (623) 551-5159.


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