Just before 8 a.m. on Sunday, December 7, 1941, the Imperial Japanese Navy attacked the US naval base at Pearl Harbor, Honolulu, Hawaii.
More than 2,300 American lives were lost, and approximately 1,000 were injured. Approximately 300 planes were put out of commission. Nearly 20 vessels were damaged or sunk including eight of the Navy’s most impressive and powerful crafts of the time—the battleships. The following day President Franklin D. Roosevelt requested the US Congress agree to declare war on Japan ending our neutrality and officially entering the US into World War II.
The battleship, USS Arizona, was struck in a Japanese bombing raid. The breach in the armor allowed the ammunition stores in the magazine to be lit by a bomb. The explosion was so great that witnesses reported the ship momentarily rising from the water before with taking her crew of 1177 souls with her to the bottom of the harbor.
An effort to memorialize the more than 900 men whose bodies could not be recovered from the ship was mounted, but fell short on funding. In March 1962, Elvis Presley held a benefit concert and raised $54,000 as well as public awareness of the memorial’s funding campaign. The USS Arizona Memorial was dedicated May 30, 1962.