In the sparkling blue waters off the coast of Oahu, the massive hulk of the USS Arizona sits frozen, a snapshot of tragedy from more than seventy years ago. A watery tomb for many of the ship’s crew, the sunken remnant represents the first American casualties of a war destined to consume the entire world.
To this day, the Arizona mourns her fallen crew. Seven decades later, tiny droplets of oil continue to leak from the sunken battleship, collecting on the surface where visitors can observe these “Tears of the Arizona.” And the sense of mourning is mutual. Occasionally, when one of the ill-fated ship’s survivors dies, they elect to rejoin the fallen crew of the Arizona as their final resting place, a solemn act that reunites the comrades in death.
During the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, 2,403 Americans were killed as Japanese pilots bombed the eight battleships stationed there. Another 1,178 were wounded during the attack. Four of the eight battleships were sunk and hundreds of planes were destroyed. It was an act of unprovoked terror that shocked the nation and the world, which would lead us to join the Allies in World War II.
Despite the intensity and chaos of the attack, a few photographs of the devastation exist, snapped during and in the immediate aftermath of the surprise attack. They tell a story of a wounded nation, filled with terrible resolve. Indeed, the sleeping giant was now wide awake and ready to avenge the losses at Pearl Harbor.
In addition to the crippled battleships littering the harbor, Japanese aircraft strafed the nearby airfields. The burning and bullet-riddled frames of the U.S. fighters capture the true extent of the surprise, destroyed before they could even leave the ground.
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