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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


New USS Arizona memorial to welcome students next fall

Sam Gross

The USS Arizona was sunk in the Dec. 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, with one of its bells salvaged and placed in the tower of the Student Union Memorial Center. The bell arrived at UA in July 1946, and was first rung on Nov. 17, 1951.

Thanks to a group of Tucson residents, students passing by the UA Mall next fall will be walking down a memorial to the USS Arizona.

The Mall—from the east-facing side of Old Main to just before the desert garden—differs by only a matter of feet in length from the 608-foot-long expanse of the battleship and will soon be home to an outline of the ship.

Project designer David Carter said that the group of residents has designed bronze medallions that will be embedded in the Mall outlining the shape of the Arizona, with each medallion including the name, rank, home state, birth year and death year for one of the sailors or Marines who died onboard the Arizona during the Dec. 7, 1941 attacks on Pearl Harbor.

“When we started working on this project we realized and discovered if we take the footprint of the ship itself and superimpose it over the Mall, the ship would literally just fit into that beautiful area of grass,” said Charles Albanese, dean emeritus of the College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture.

Albanese said the UA is in full support of the memorial, but cannot offer any funding to help with its $100,000 projected cost. According to Carter, the cost could be closer to $150,000.

The UA has, however, given its permission for the group to proceed with fundraising.

One of the few ships deemed too damaged to be raised, salvaged and reinstated to service, the wreck of the Arizona is now a memorial dedicated to the 1,177 sailors who died on the ship—1,102 of whom are still entombed inside its hull.

The UA is already home to a number of artifacts salvaged from the wreck. In particular, one of the ship’s two bells sits in the clock tower of the Student Union Memorial Center and the student union itself is designed to reflect certain aspects of the battleship. The curvature of the canyon represents the silhouette of the ship’s hull and the main cylinder-shaped structure is designed to represent the Arizona’s superstructure and main gun turret.

Carter said it is important not just for students, but for all of us to remember our history and understand the significance of those who came before us. Carter went on to say that when looking at the medallions, it will not take long for students to realize that those who died on board the Arizona were very young—about the age of most college students.

Albanese added that it is even more significant to put it in a place where everyone who calls the UA home can see the sacrifices that were made for them.

Cpl. Jared Suydam, a political science and global studies senior, said he has been to the USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor and thought it was incredible. Suydam hopes the USS Arizona project can be accomplished.

“We have to honor their sacrifice with every opportunity possible, and what better place than the largest communal area on campus?” Suydam said. “It’s important to remember that not everyone gets to come home afterwards and enjoy the liberties we have.”

Suydam served in the U.S. Marine Corps for four years and said he thinks it is reasonable for everyone to pitch in to make this project happen.

“I think it’s fair to say that every student veteran at [the] UA is pursuing their education for those who were unable to come home, and that, in some way their sacrifice and legacy is what drives us,” he said.

Follow Chastity Laskey and Sam Gross on Twitter.

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