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A reader named Loraine wrote me this interesting email about dress code at the Arizona Memorial.

"On our recent visit to Hawaii, our family was waiting in line to be assigned a number for the launch to the Arizona. In front of us was a Army Staff Sgt. dressed in his fatigues who was with his mother.

When we got to the desk for our number assignment, he was told that the Navy would not allow him on the memorial dressed as he was. Everyone around gasped at that.

He was told that if he wanted to go ON the memorial he would need different clothes. He was just back from Iraq and did not have civilian clothes with him.

The park service clerk suggested that he go to the PX about a mile down the road and he could possible pick up civilian attire. They would be glad to HOLD his number while he did that. Yes, he did get back in time; however, dressed in an aloha shirt, cut off shorts and flip flops.

No one around that day could fathom that an active military person would be denied access to the Arizona because he was in his fatigues. Fatigues are normal army attire when out and about in Hawaii. This gentlemen should have been sent to the front of the line.

Have you ever heard about this before?"


No, I actually had never heard of that before. However, upon checking the National Park Service site for the USS Arizona National Memorial, I read the following:
Dress Attire

Civilian: The minimum dress attire for the USS Arizona Memorial is footwear, shorts and shirt. Sandals and Flip Flops are permissible, but bathing suits or profane T-shirts are not allowed on-site.

Military: The minimum dress attire for military personnel is dress whites or better, or service equivalent. BDU'S are not allowed on the memorial.

A BDU is Battle Dress Uniform. I suppose the restriction has something to do with respect. Since so many soldiers are entombed on the USS Arizona, they apparently feel that any military person who wishes to be in uniform should wear their best uniform.

On the one hand I understand it, but I really don’t see how the soldier’s fatigues are less respectful than a t-shirt, shorts and flip-flops.

Do you have a question about Hawaii that you'd like me to answer? Drop me a line at gohawaii.guide@about.com.
April 22, 2007 at 8:47 am
(1) Ken says:

For Active Duty Personnel, There Is A Dress Code Which Is Appropriate For A National Grave Site Of War Hero’s. It Was Nice He Took His Mom. Next Time He Should Take A Minute To Jump Into A Non Working Uniform And Honor Both The Men Of The Arizona And His Mother. I’m Sure It Makes Her Proud To See Him In Formal Whites And A Proper Uniform Off His Duty Station.

April 24, 2007 at 10:31 pm
(2) Len Durst says:

Military personnel realize that Army Fatigues are appropriate dress to enter any business, or social event off post, except to pickup milk, laudry,etc.

Lucky the MPs did not find the Sad Sack Army guy in Army fatigues, or he would havce ended up in the army Brig, Now called a confinement Facility.

July 17, 2007 at 8:48 pm
(3) Sheryl Watkins says:

Just a note that the military personnel who are entombed in the Arizona are Sailors (Navy) and Marines. Soldiers serve in the Army, and the term should not be used as generic for any military personnel. Certainly those members of the Air Force and Army who died that day deserve to be honored, as I believe they are by the service flags flying in the foyer of the memorial.

It’s regrettable that staff at the memorial don’t have extra clothing on hand for just such an emergency. I’m sorry someone who fought for our country was inconvenienced so.

I am surprised the dress code was enforced. When I was at the Arizona Memorial earlier this month, no one observed the “no photography” rule.

March 23, 2012 at 11:39 pm
(4) Michael says:

Sheryl, first; there are Sailors, Marines, Coasties AND Soldiers entombed in the Arizona. Second, there are no Air Force deaths from World War II as the Air Force was not established as a separate force outside of the Army until after the end of the war. They were Army Air Corps. Also, as an active duty member myself I completely understand his not being allowed to visit the actual memorial until he was in appropriate attire. If he is in uniform, he is agreeing to follow all policies that are associated with it. The Navy Uniform Regulation written by the Commander of Navy Region Hawaii states that when an active duty serviceman is visiting the memorial in uniform a sailor should wear the service uniform or better and a member of a different branch SHALL wear their equivalent of a Navy Summer White. For the Army that would be his Class “B” uniform. There are many rules that we adhere to in the military that most civilians would be surprised to discover and are denied many liberties that they[civilians] take for granted. The staff Sargent is well aware of this and upon realizing his mistake did exactly what he knew to be right and corrected himself. If he chooses to be in a hula shirt and flip flops, he is no longer a standing representative of the United States Military and thus is not required to be held to the same standards; though technically he is still supposed to adhere to military code of ethics and maintain a professional demeanor at all times.

June 1, 2012 at 1:55 pm
(5) Robin says:

Why is it so difficult for Americans to just follow simple guidelines and rules? Maybe our country wouldn’t be in so much trouble if everyone wasn’t trying to make exceptions and excuses for everything. If you don’t agree with the rules, find out the history behind it and then if you think it is truly unreasonable, take the steps to change it. Don’t just whine and complain about it.

December 26, 2012 at 6:26 pm
(6) Ashley says:

This just happens to us about 40 minutes ago. I had my little brother visiting and he was in his ACU’s. I have no issue with the rule, only that is is not posted anywhere except on the Internet. For the most part, no one around here (JBPHH) has even heard of this rule and we’ve been stationed here for over 3 years.

And I agree with a statement made a few before mine. I find ball cap wearing, flip flops, and cut offs to be far less respectful than Army Fatigues.

May 19, 2013 at 4:26 pm
(7) Honor and Code says:

Military Personal must wear their class B as a sign of respect – they aren’t civilians so it doesn’t matter if you find the fatigues less respectful than flip flops…

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