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Posted by John Keller

I've always been haunted by my own thoughts and imagination of the ill-fated battleship USS Arizona, which was sunk in a fiery explosion 66 years ago today with 1,177 sailors and marines aboard. I've read about it, dreamed about it, built a model of it. It's one of those things I can't escape.

Today you'll read countless articles recounting the Pearl Harbor attack and the Arizona's sinking. Click here to see what I mean.

The most interesting, real, and chilling story I've read lately about Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona is about the little-known surviving artifacts of the sunken battleship, which still exist at Pearl Harbor behind locked gates and out of the public's view.

The story is entitled The 'Sacred Relics' of Pearl Harbor, which appeared three days ago in the Wall Street Journal. The account, by Brian M. Sobel, discusses the warship's surviving relics -- like the Arizona's main mast with its ladder still bolted inside -- that are stored in a secret location on Waipio Peninsula in Honolulu.

What strikes me most about the story is its account of the power of actually touching the metal that was part of the Arizona. It was the same for me a few years ago when I visited the Arizona Memorial. I spent several minutes, I remember, just leaning out from the memorial's visitor deck to put my hand on a big rusty pipe sticking up from the sunken warship, which still rests in the mud of Pearl Harbor, slowly leaking drops of heavy bunker fuel oil known as "black tears."

Touching always makes things seem more real. I don't know why, but it does. I've touched one of the B-29 bombers that dropped atom bombs on Japan to end the war that Pearl Harbor started. In my historical re-enacting experiences I've jerked the lanyard to fire an iron cannon that was part of a Union battery on Cemetery Ridge at Gettysburg. I've held a rifle that was used at the Battle of Little Bighorn, and yet nothing moved me so deeply as reaching out and touching the Arizona that day.

I'm hoping the federal government takes good care of those artifacts from the Arizona battleship, and that one day all of us can go see them in a museum. I'd like more people to be able to experience what I did.

Take a moment today to remember Pearl Harbor, the Arizona, and the people who died there. It was our parents' and our grandparents' 9/11.

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Welcome to the lighter side of Military & Aerospace Electronics. This is where our staff recount tales of the strange, the weird, and the otherwise offbeat. We could put news here, but we have the rest of our Website for that. Enjoy our scribblings, and feel free to add your own opinions. You might also get to know us in the process. Proceed at your own risk.

John Keller for MAE
John Keller is editor-in-chief of Military & Aerospace Electronics magazine, which provides extensive coverage and analysis of enabling electronic and optoelectronic technologies in military, space, and commercial aviation applications. A member of the Military & Aerospace Electronics staff since the magazine's founding in 1989, Mr. Keller took over as chief editor in 1995.

Courtney Howard for MAE Courtney E. Howard is senior editor of Military & Aerospace Electronics magazine. She is responsible for writing news stories and feature articles for the print publication, as well as composing daily news for the magazine's Website and assembling the weekly electronic newsletter. Her features have appeared in such high-tech trade publications as Military & Aerospace Electronics, Computer Graphics World, Electronic Publishing, Small Times, and The Audio Amateur.

John McHale for MAE John McHale is executive editor of Military & Aerospace Electronics magazine, where he has been covering the defense Industry for more than dozen years. During that time he also led PennWell's launches of magazines and shows on homeland security and a defense publication and website in Europe. Mr. McHale has served as chairman of the Military & Aerospace Electronics Forum and its Advisory Council since 2004. He lives in Boston with his golf clubs.