(Via Ho’okele News)
Rear Adm. Rick Williams
(The U.S. Postal Service commemorated the USS Arizona Memorial by issuing a new priority mail express stamp this week. Rear Adm. Rick Williams, commander of Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific, was a guest speaker, along with former U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Akaka, and other officials at an unveiling and dedication of the stamp. The unveiling was held at a first day of issue ceremony March 13 at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center, adjacent to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.)
Rear Adm. Rick Williams
Commander, Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific
We are extremely fortunate to share this day with living monuments – brave warriors who survived the attack of Dec. 7, 1941 and who fought across the Pacific in World War II.
You have to wonder if our young Sailors back in 1941, looking at the tragedy and destruction of the events of that day, would have imagined how their greatest generation had the resilience and resolve to turn the tide from despair, to rebuild our fleet, and then lead us to victory. Think of how proud our Pearl Harbor survivors must be to know that their shipmates did not sacrifice in vain.
USS Arizona Memorial is a symbol honoring all those who lost their lives here in Pearl Harbor and a reminder of our nation’s resolve to achieve victory and preserve peace.
One hundred years ago today, the New York Navy Yard was ready to begin construction of battleship-39. The ship’s keel was laid down March 16, 1914.
Twenty-seven years later, BB-39 – USS Arizona – was tied up here next to Ford Island on the day of infamy that ignited the war in the Pacific.
Almost 80 percent of USS Arizona’s crew was killed in the attack – nearly 1,200 men – more than half of those killed in the Pacific Fleet on December 7th.
“Remember Pearl Harbor” was a rallying cry for Americans during World War II, and USS Arizona came to symbolize the sacrifice of all Sailors and Marines who fought against tyranny in the Pacific.
In 1950, the commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, Adm. Arthur W. Radford, re-raised the flag above USS Arizona on a small platform not accessible to the public.
Since that time, the Navy has achieved significant milestones to make the publicly accessible Arizona Memorial and the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center a reality – with the strong support of the people of Hawaii, public and private groups, the National Park Service and veterans of our ‘Greatest Generation.’
In 1959 the Navy selected the architect, Alfred Preis, and on Memorial Day 1962 sponsored a dedication ceremony.
In 1967 the Navy requested appropriations to build a full-scale center with a museum and theater complex. The Navy was a key partner in the design of the new visitor center, too.
Over the years, we have continued to collaborate and cooperate with the National Park Service on behalf of our veterans and their families.
Each decade the number of visitors to Pearl Harbor has grown by hundreds of thousands. Today, Navy biodiesel boats – named after Medal of Honor recipients such as John Finn, Samuel Fuqua and Peter Tomich – carry nearly 2 million visitors each year – with our Sailors at the helm.
International visitors learn about the history and heritage of our past, the strategic economic importance of the Pacific today, and the dynamic opportunities of tomorrow. Our Navy in Hawaii helps build partnerships in the Pacific, responds to calls for humanitarian assistance, and provides maritime security as part of our rebalance to protect those opportunities.
This week’s ceremony is another example of the Navy’s, Hawaii’s and our nation’s commitment to remember Pearl Harbor and preserve the enduring legacy of peace that the USS Arizona Memorial represents.
So let’s admire this stamp. Let’s appreciate what it stands for as it is our connection to today’s challenges following the same credo that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt put forth when he said, “We must apply ourselves to the same resolution, the same sense of purpose, a spirit of patriotism and sacrifice … Remember the Arizona.”