Proclaim Pearl Harbor a national monument
President Bush has asked his defense and interior secretaries to assess a proposal to proclaim a Pearl Harbor National Monument.
Current renovation of the Arizona Memorial Visitors Center is designed as a gateway to the sunken battleship and nearby facilities of historical importance, and it is only logical that President Bush embrace all of them as a national monument. He has called upon Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne to assess his proposal.
The need for such a proclamation became obvious after the battleship USS Missouri, where Japanese surrender documents were signed in 1945, was given a berth across the harbor from the Arizona Memorial a decade ago. Together, they signify the tragic beginning and heroic end of World War II for America.
Also nearby is the USS Bowfin, the first submarine commissioned after the Pearl Harbor attack, and, on Ford Island, the Pacific Aviation Museum. A $38 million construction project for a new visitors center is intended as a gateway to all the facilities.
The National Park Service now administers the Arizona Memorial while the Missouri Memorial Association is a private, nonprofit organization. Both are supported by the Navy. Bush did not indicate how the entirety would be administered under his proposal. It could be made to resemble the public-private partnership of the park service and the Ellis Island Foundation; that island is part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument.
In a memorandum to the two secretaries, the president said the monument would include "objects of historic and scientific interest at Pearl Harbor, including Ford Island, and at other sites across the Pacific," presumably Midway and Wake islands. Those objects, he added, "may tell the broader story of the war, the sacrifices made by America and its allies, and the heroism and determination that laid the groundwork for victory in the Pacific and triumph in World War II."
The defense and interior secretaries should act promptly in their assessment so the president can give proper recognition before his term expires.
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