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Historic Video of the USS Arizona Memorial Opening

On May 30, 2022, the USS Arizona Memorial will mark the 60th anniversary of its opening.

This is a portion of video discovered in the National Archives by a California professor who is the curator for an upcoming exhibit on Alfred Preis, the renowned architect who designed the Memorial. 

Professor Axel Schmitzberger will show an extended version of the U.S. Navy video at the exhibit exploring the life and career of Preis.  He fled Nazi occupied Austria in 1939 and moved to Hawaii but found himself locked up as an enemy alien following the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.  

Of the 1,177 USS Arizona crewmembers who perished that day, more than 900 remain entombed on the Arizona.  An estimated two million visitors come to the USS Arizona Memorial annually to commemorate and honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

The moving 1962 video is historic.  Sailors manned the rails from nearby battleships and stood on a mooring quay from Battleship Row. A number of those quays still exist in Pearl Harbor to this day, 80 years after Pearl Harbor was attacked.   

The Navy and civilian dignitaries on board during the dedication included the senior surviving officer from the USS Arizona, Rear Admiral Samuel Fuqua.  Members of the Pacific War Memorial Commission were in attendance, along with former Congressman John Burns, who helped secure critical funding from members of Congress to build the Memorial.  Later that year he became Hawaii’s governor. Alfred Preis was also at the dedication and would later work with Burns to promote the arts.  Neither Burns or Preis had a speaking role at the dedication.  

But Alfred Preis will go down in history as being the designer of one of our nation’s most iconic war memorials.

In later interviews he explained his design.

“By not having struck first, by having permitted Japan to the first attack we suffered a major defeat.  The form of the Arizona (Memorial) the limpness of the curve, shows the defeat. The two ends, with sharp muscular edges, show how we (rose) out of the defeat into ultimate victory.”  

The Alfred Preis story will be the topic of a History Talks webinar on May 11 at 11am Hawaii time. It’s titled Alfred Preis Displaced: The Tropical Modernism of the Austrian emigrant and architect of the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor

80th Commemoration Ceremonies

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