HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Thousands of visitors flocked to the USS Arizona Memorial Sunday, which reopened after 15 months of repairs.
Bob and Patty Drake of Minneapolis, who were on the first boat to the monument, said they waited nearly two hours in line to visit the monument dedicated to the people who served and suffered during the attack on Pearl Harbor more than 77 years ago.
“This is a bucket list thing. It’s was pretty, pretty impressive, nothing short of incredible," said Bob Drake. “It’s sad, it’s impressive, it makes you proud.”
Anna and Gabriel Urena of Providence, R.I., who also were on the first boat, said they were also overcome by the experience.
“I had tears running from my face. I couldn’t help it. It’s very sad," said Anna Urena.
The memorial has been closed since May 2018 after the dock was partially submerged and cracks were found. More than $2 million dollars were spent on the renovation project.
“We had to rebuild the system from scratch and do it safely so people can now access it," said Steve Mietz, Acting Superintendent for the Pearl Harbor National Memorial.
U.S. Rep. Ed Case, who worked with Hawaii’s congressional leaders to speed up the project, said he’s glad the repairs are finally complete.
“I think we’re all frustrated with the amount of time it took to complete these repairs,” he said.
“Having listened more closely to the technical challenges, I understand they needed the time to do this right and I think they did do it right.”
Visitor traffic to the park has been down about 30 percent since the shutdown of the Arizona.
Sales at the memorial’s book store as well as business at tour operators that transport tourists to the site were also affected.
Attendance is expect to surge back now that the fixes are complete.
“I’m glad that it’s open and other people can experience it,” said Jim Moffett of Klamath Falls, Ore.