National Park Service officials are expecting 200,000 visitors at the USS Arizona Memorial Friday for special Pearl Harbor Day ceremonies.
But this year's activities are only a prelude to the events scheduled in 1991 for the 50th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.A marble wall inside the memorial that straddles the sunken Arizona lists the names of the 1,177 sailors and Marines who were killed on the ship during the attack. But 1,226 others were killed during the attack as well.
"We hope to have a remembrance exhibit that lists all of the casualties and hope to have that dedicated by Dec. 7, 1991," said Donald Magee, superintendent of the Arizona memorial center.
The Park Service has a rough design for the new exhibit and is researching the names of the other soldiers and civilians killed during the attack. Officials are also in the early stages of raising private donations for the exhibit, which is expected to cost $150,000, Magee said.
Veterans organizations are already making plans for major reunions in and around Honolulu in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack. And while many of those groups don't have a direct tie to the Japanese attack, the Pearl Harbor anniversary is bringing the groups back to the island.
"We know there are other veterans groups coming back besides the USS Arizona Association," Magee said. Veterans organizations dating through the Vietnam War have major reunions planned.
The Arizona memorial is able to accommodate only a small number of visitors at a time, Magee said, so a flotilla of barges and additional seating on nearby Ford Island will be arranged to allow more visitors to observe Pearl Harbor Day ceremonies there next year.
Films of the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor that are shown to visitors are almost completely worn out, and no master copy is available to make new prints, Magee said. As a result, a project is under way to collect footage to make a new film.
The memorial was dedicated in 1962, and the nearby visitors center was opened in 1980. Magee said about 1.5 million people visit the memorial each year and the 20 millionth visitor is expected before the golden anniversary.