Trivia, But Not Trivial

pearl harborRemembrance is key. Even on a Monday morning, where it’s hard enough just to remember your keys! But this Monday is a very important and somber date not to be forgotten.

On December 7, 1941, the Japanese launched a surprise airstrike on the United States Naval Base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. 2,403 Americans were killed, making the Pearl Harbor attack one of the deadliest events on American soil. The aftermath of the events changed the course of world history, bringing the United States into World War II.

I have a reputation for being a trivia buff around here – and it’s true. I often find I remember important things in the details, in small pieces and concrete facts that help me wrap my mind around the big stuff. Trivia doesn’t mean it’s trivial, it’s just one way to remember things. In that vein, and with the utmost respect and thanks for those who fought and gave their lives, here are some of the most interesting facts about Pearl Harbor:

There’s still gas in the tank. Even now, seventy-five years later, the USS Arizona sits at the bottom of Pearl Harbor, and it’s still leaking fuel. With a nearly full tank of gas when she was hit, the USS Arizona went down with nearly 1.5 million gallons of fuel. While some worry about the environmental effects the ship’s oil and gas leaks will have on the Hawaiian ecosystem, others say it’s as though the ship’s still weeping down there.

pearl harborThe Arizona wasn’t alone. Eight ships in the harbor were attacked that day, but only the USS Arizona was declared a total loss and left at the bottom of Pearl Harbor. Six of the other ships were repaired and sent right back out to sea – ready to fight for their country. Even the USS Oklahoma, so badly damaged it sank completely, was dredged and repaired. Though it was scheduled to return to sea in 1944, it was deemed too badly damaged, and eventually sank off the Pacific coast during a towing trip in May 1947.

As American as Elvis and peanut butter sandwiches. When some extra funding was
needed to complete the USS Arizona memorial in 1961, former serviceman and rock ‘n’ roll king Elvis Presley himself hopped down to Hawaii to perform a benefit concert. The benefit raised a whopping $50,000, and the memorial was completed.

The Spirit of Hawaii. When the federal government shutdown of 2013 caused museums and other memorials to close, the Pearl Harbor memorial stayed open. Servicemembers and their families stationed in Hawaii spontaneously volunteered, weeding, raking, and cutting grass to keep the memorial site bright and beautiful. All they asked in return was for their message to the veterans to be heard: “We have not forgotten you; we will never forget you.”

Happy Monday,