12/12/21 - posted by John Martini
I worked at the USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor in 1982-1984, shortly after the National Park Service began operating the visitor center/museum and giving interpretive programs both shoreside and on the Memorial itself. This was only 40 years after the attack, and we had a large volunteer contingent of Pearl Harbor survivors who talked daily with visitors to the park. (It's sobering to realize that most were younger than I am today!) The public was fascinated to hear and meet them, and always thanked them for their courage and service.

I had several moving experiences as the chief Park Ranger: carrying out the first dive surveys of the sunken battleship since the war and finding firehoses, kitchenware and uniform parts still on the deck; meeting Japanese pilots who fought on the other side and returned to pray for their onetime foes; and participating in two burials at sea of Arizona survivors who had requested to be interred with their shipmates in the sunken battleship rather than with their families on the mainland.

It was also a place of intense feelings and, in many cases, needing to de-escalate passions of folks who wanted to re-fight World War II. (They were usually visitors from the mainland who had never been to Hawaii before or had minimal contact with people of Asian ancestry.) Some demanded we bar Japanese visitors from the Memorial.

These visitors would frequently ask the survivor volunteers, "Don't you hate the Japanese?" The veterans' answers were always something to the effect of "I may hate the Japanese military who ordered the attack, but not the Japanese people; those pilots had their orders just like we did. We were both in the 'war business' that day."

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