HONOLULU – National Park Service Director Dan Smith, an army veteran of the Vietnam War, announced on Friday that he would close the USS Arizona Memorial until all the war memorials “woke their asses up and got some goddamn visitors.”
The USS Arizona memorial, which preserves and interprets the site of eight battleships lost in the Pearl Harbor Attack of 1941, is one of the National Park Service’s most popular military history attractions. Although the site routinely brings in 4,000 to 5,000 visitors per day, Smith quoted the wisdom of many drill sergeants when he told the park that it was only as good as its weakest war memorial.
“You think you’re going to engage Americans in thoughtful reflection about the past? Help visitors make sense of the present by remembering the past? Not with that bullshit attitude about only teaching the visitors that show up. Until parks like Tupelo National Battlefield can meet the standard, everyone is going to feel the pain,” said Smith, before kicking the last of the Park Rangers out of the USS Arizona Memorial into the driving rain.
Gladys Honeywell, 78, a longtime volunteer for the National Park Service at the USS Arizona, was last seen grabbing a piece of sweet horizon and pushing it out during a smoke show led personally by Smith on the deteriorating walkway of the memorial.
“The USS Arizona is a strong park, but it needs to stop thinking like an individual war memorial and work to bring the group together,” said Smith. “I never hear it talk about Wilson’s Creek or Kennesaw Mountain. It would rather just lap up the tourists trying to find an ounce of meaning in their weeklong tiki binge fests.”
He added: “It’s the National fucking park service, not the Park Service of One.”
The move has been controversial within the park, leading some to start rumors the memorial is closing due to underfunding and structural concerns. Others chalk it up to inter-service rivalry, since an Army veteran has closed one of the few naval history parks amid the closure of several army history parks.
Smith, who took over the role of National Park Service director in January, has been a controversial figure since he closed Yellowstone for a weekend because Yosemite couldn’t make it through a 96 hour pass without a DUI.