A Thousand Ones | My Family Travels
USS Arizona Memorial Wall
Smoke Stacks from the USS Arizona
The Author with Smoke Stacks

The silence is so strong it hurts my ears. It’s as if the people around me are trying not to wake the souls that lie below our feet. The water around us seems shadowy, but I know what is there. It’s a feeling, not what I can see, that reminds me of the true meaning of Pearl Harbor.

The tour guide talks in a hushed voice that echoes off the white walls of the USS Arizona Memorial. “The survivors were few, but their memories are strong enough for 2,000,” shares the guide. 2,403 is how many people lost their lives that day. 1,177 of those people were from the USS Arizona, the very ship we stood above now. Numbers are hard for me to wrap my mind around. It seems small compared to the world population of 7 billion but large to the population of my school at 1,200.

I think about these numbers as I continue to stare into the sunken ship as fish roam aimlessly around. How can a person be reduced to the number one with a bunch of other number ones to create 1,177? The average person is 430 millimeters wide. 1,177 people lined up shoulder to shoulder would be longer than five and a half football fields. That one number one adds up to something much greater than I realized.

Numbers and more numbers were disrupted when I saw letters in names. A whole wall covered in names. One name stood out to me: R Campbell. My uncle’s name is Robert Campbell. I knew the man on the ship had a very small relation to me if any, but my eyes kept returning to the man who shared my last name. Did he have a wife? Where was he from? Why did he join the military? What was his favorite color?

I look at the wall filled with names that people glaze over and see a story. Each one of these names had hopes and dreams, people who loved them, parents, and desires. 1,177 is made up of hundreds of ones that all have a favorite color and a unique soul. They all had a story they wanted to share with the world.

Oil leaks from the sunken ship in tiny amounts. It’s as if the people trapped below are reminding us they are there every second. The amount of oil is so tiny per day that it doesn’t effect the environment, however if all the oil that leaked from the USS Arizona was collected, it could power a Ford Fiesta to drive around the earth 76 times.

What seems small, such as a name or a quart of oil, can add up to move nations as well as souls. We cannot forget that something so large is made up of individual parts that seem insignificant. We need to remember each of the individual lives that inspired us to fight the world.

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