TUCSON, Ariz. — A new memorial to the sunken battleship the USS Arizona was unveiled on Sunday, three days before the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor that propelled the United States into World War II.
Installed on the grassy mall in the center of the University of Arizona campus, the USS Arizona Mall Memorial consists of a full-scale outline of the famous ship's deck and a brick plaza with 1,177 bronze medallions inscribed with the name, rank and home state of each of the soldiers and Marines who died aboard the ship on Dec. 7, 1941.
"This memorial is a fitting contribution to the UA's tradition of remembering the USS Arizona and is a wonderful addition to the UA Mall and the life of our campus," UA President Ann Weaver Hart said to an overflow crowd at the dedication ceremony. "The installation will help all of us to remember the sacrifice of the Arizona's crew, and our hope is that it inspires gratitude and reminds us of the sacrifice others have made in defense of our freedoms."
The event included a flyover by the 47th Fighter Squadron from nearby Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, and a presentation of colors by the UA's NROTC Color Guard, followed by a performance of the national anthem by Dolce Voces, an all-female a cappella group at the University.
The USS Arizona Mall Memorial illustrates the size of the ship's massive deck, which was 597 feet long — the length of two football fields — and 97 feet wide. The installation extends lengthwise, west to east, stern to bow, from the first and oldest building on the UA campus, Old Main, to a cactus display, the Krutch Garden. The outline of the ship is created by a narrow strip of rubberized track material in the grass of the mall. UA alumnus Yasser Malaika created the 3-D modeling of the memorial used in its construction.
The memorial includes a brick walkway with curved walls containing the medallions, and it includes a flagpole that lines up directly with the Student Union Memorial Center tower that enshrines one of two bells once housed on the USS Arizona.
U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Stephen C. Evans, commander of the Naval Service Training Command, and U.S. Rep. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., a retired Air Force colonel, also spoke at the dedication.
"The University of Arizona has a unique bond and relationship with Pearl Harbor, as the famed battleship the USS Arizona and its salvaged remains now act as a memorial for many of the sailors our nation lost (on Dec. 7, 1941)," Evans said.
"We've got to continue on with their legacy and honoring them," McSally said of those who perished aboard the Arizona. "May we remember and not forget."
Three Tucsonans were responsible for bringing the idea for the memorial to Bob Smith, UA vice president for University Planning, Design and Operations.
Bill Westcott, David Carter and Chuck Albanese, retired dean and professor of the UA College of Architecture, raised $160,000 in private donations to fund the project. Carter and Albanese previously had worked together on preservation projects, and Westcott lost his namesake uncle, Seaman 1st Class William P. Westcott Jr., on the USS Arizona.
"You need to be drawn in (by a memorial)," Westcott said, "and this does it."
"We designed this memorial to honor all veterans with the intent that they would visit the site for many, many years to come," Albanese said.
The UA is a repository for many artifacts from the USS Arizona, with University Libraries' Special Collections managing one of the world's largest archives of memorabilia from the ship. An exhibit curated by Special Collections, "The Life and Legacy of the USS Arizona," continues through Dec. 23.
The UA's Student Union Memorial Center is a multilevel cylindrical drum designed to represent the shape of the USS Arizona's superstructure. Many artifacts are displayed permanently in a USS Arizona room in the Student Union.