Four of the remaining nine crew members of the USS ARIZONA (BB 39) met this week for what was billed as their final reunion. Here is a local news report, with interviews of the four men. Seventy-three years after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the survivors are all in their nineties.
If you watch the video, you will see that the emotions are still very near to the surface with them. Not only did they watch over 1100 of their shipmates perish in a moment in 1941, but they also have witnessed the passing of their fellow survivors over the years as time has marched on.
What also emerges in the video is a spirit that is shared among the four men, of camaraderie, shared sacrifice, and survival. They vowed to continue holding reunions, even if they are no longer considered “official” events. Two of them have already made arrangements to have their ashes interred at the ARIZONA when they too face the final call.
They were ordinary men who were thrown together through war and violence, and who now share a bond that will never be broken. Chiseled into the granite walls of the World War II memorial is a quote from ADM Chester Nimitz that seems appropriate to repeat here as we remember those who were lost on December 7, 1941. He said:
THEY FOUGHT TOGETHER AS BROTHERS-IN-ARMS.
THEY DIED TOGETHER AND NOW THEY SLEEP SIDE BY SIDE.
TO THEM WE HAVE A SOLEMN OBLIGATION.
Admiral Chester W. Nimitz