Since the USS ALABAMA, known as the “Mighty A”, took her place in Mobile Bay and opened to the public in 1965, more than 14 million visitors have stood in awe and remembrance of her service during World War II.
During World War II the USS ALABAMA saw 37 months of active duty, and earned nine Battle Stars. The battleship and her crew saw action in the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean campaigns, and never suffered any casualties or significant damage due to enemy fire.
When the war ended, the ship was mothballed on Puget Sound in Washington, a long way from her namesake state. In 1962 the Navy announced plans to scrap the USS ALABAMA and many other ships. In response a campaign was begun by Alabama school children to raise the funds needed to bring the ship to Mobile. The effort of the children raised an impressive $100,000, and a corporate campaign raised the additional funds to reach the $1 million total needed.
The nautical journey to Mobile was not quick or easy. The tow took nearly three months, including a harrowing squeeze through the Panama Canal, with less than one foot of clearance on each side. Once the ship arrived and was pulled into position, dedicated crews worked tirelessly to get her ready to open in only four months. Their work included sandblasting, painting and getting the interior of the ship ready for a public not used to being on a battleship.
As you travel across Mobile Bay you catch glimpses of the USS ALABAMA; but it isn’t until you enter the park that you get an appreciation for the magnitude of the ship. With a length more than two football fields and an imposing armament of guns, you are reminded that this is a living history experience. You are walking in the steps of the brave sailors who sailed into battle and defended our country.
As you tour the entire park you see the USS DRUM submarine, the many aircraft and the powerful memorials to our troops of all conflicts, hopefully you will reflect on the dedicated and sacrifice that is required for freedom and liberty.
On this Memorial Day, we salute the USS ALABAMA, the “Mighty A” and all who have served our country!