UA's Mall Memorial Makes 'Quiet Statement'
The newest memorial on campus, with its overt and subtle elements, speaks to UA tradition, design and the continuing effort to preserve the memory of 1,177 sailors and Marines killed on the USS Arizona during the 1941 bombing of Pearl Harbor.
Lt. John William Finn took charge of a machine gun and began returning fire after the first attack by Japanese airplanes on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.
Nearby, Francis C. Flaherty, an ensign of the U.S. Naval Reserve, saw that the USS Oklahoma was going to capsize. He chose to remain in a gun turret to help others escape.
Stationed on the USS Nevada, sailor Edwin Joseph Hill led a group of men to safety, then swam back in an attempt to dislodge the anchors.
The University of Arizona's USS Arizona Mall Memorial — dedicated during a ceremony on Sunday that drew an overflow crowd, including direct descendants of USS Arizona sailors and Marines — honors the sacrifices of those men, and others killed during the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
"You think of those who served and perished, and the 335 who survived — it was a typical day, if you think about it … and they didn’t know the world was about to change," U.S. Rep. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., said during the dedication, held also to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the surprise strike by Japan.
After the bombing, many survivors were immediately reassigned for what would become World War II. Some would not know for weeks, months and even until the end of the war that their friends, colleagues and brothers had died at Pearl Harbor, McSally said.
"These are just some of the stories of how they got up that morning — like we got up this morning," said McSally, a retired U.S. Air Force colonel.
"We are to continue with their legacy and honor them, and there is no more fitting a way to do that than this memorial at the University of Arizona. So as we are going to class or work or running down the Mall, we may stop and look at the names and remember their service, sacrifice and courage. May we continue with their legacy. Freedom is only one generation away from being lost."
Panels at the memorial carry bronze medallions displaying the name, rank and home state of each of the 1,177 sailors and Marines who died on the ship. All told, more than 2,400 Americans died at Pearl Harbor and an additional 1,282 were wounded.
"The sacrifices made by America's sailors and Marines, both past and present, can never truly be measured, but they certainly can be appreciated," said U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Stephen C. Evans, commander of the Naval Service Training Command, who also spoke during the ceremony. "Their histories can be retold and their memories kept alive."
A Memorial Unlike Others
Memorials like this one are imbued with symbolism. But for the UA's newest memorial, its form also creates an echoing effect with the campus on which it lives.
The memorial's orientation aligns with the UA's oldest building, Old Main. There is a direct, line-eye connection from the memorial's flagpole to the bell tower in the Student Union Memorial Center, which was designed with the battleship in mind. That tower enshrines one of two bells salvaged from the ship after it was bombed. If the USS Arizona were to be superimposed over the memorial, the memorial's flagpole would be located on the Arizona’s bridge, where many senior officers died.
The rounded opening at the flagpole, formed by the curved walls on the east side of the memorial walkway, was intentionally produced, partially to account for such precision but also to help account for the large number of medallions, said Chuck Albanese, retired dean and professor of the UA College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture. Albanese worked with Tucsonans David Carter and Bill Westcott to conceptualize and raise $175,000 in private donations to fund the project.
Even the dark red rubberized track material lining the UA Mall, creating a full-scale outline of the ship's deck, speaks to the UA and its tradition of red brick.
"When you tell people these stories, they say there are too many coincidences," Albanese said, adding that he had several "wow" moments during the design and development of the project. "It's not so much a memorial — it's a quiet statement."
The memorial also occupies an important, centralized space on campus. Situated at the nexus connecting the north and south ends of campus, as well as its east and west corridors, the memorial serves as a transit junction for people moving to and from work, classes and meetings. It is also at a central meeting space and a place for exercise and entertainment.
The UA has other meaningful ties to the USS Arizona. In the years that followed the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Naval Training School moved into Old Main at the UA. And UA alumnus Wilber L. "Bill" Bowers reportedly saved one of the bells from being melted and recycled. That is the bell now located in the Student Union's tower.
"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 during the ceremony.
Event for a Historic Connection
That lasting UA-USS Arizona connection also was seen in the turnout of Sunday's event. A crowd estimated at more than 2,000 attended the dedication, far exceeding the size expected by organizers.
Veterans, some affiliated with biker clubs, arrived wearing their telltale leather jackets and military insignia. Groups arrived in T-shirts printed in honor of the anniversary. UA students in ROTC training both attended and participated in the event, which also drew members of the Arizona Board of Regents and representatives from offices of other elected officials. Entire families attended, with elders seated and others cooing swaddled infants. Some even brought their pet dogs.
"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," Hart told the audience.
In addition to the importance of remembering, Albanese, who attended the dedication along with Carter and Westcott, said there is a serendipitous nature to the memorial, believing it was part irony and part synchrony that it should align with campus in the way that it does.
A similar kind of alignment came in his collaboration with Carter and Westcott.
Having spent his entire professional career with the UA, spanning four decades, Albanese approached the project through an architectural lens and was focused on the memorial's physical design. Carter, who originally conceived the project and was its principal designer, was concerned with the details and also the historical and storytelling aspects, Albanese said. Westcott, whose namesake uncle died on the USS Arizona, was attentive to the emotional elements of the memorial and to fundraising.
Their different experiences and perspectives served as a strong complement throughout the project, Albanese said.
"I have spent my entire professional career on that campus. And my students were often 20-year-old men and women — about the same age as the majority who died on the ship," Albanese said.
Nearly 70 percent of those who died in the bombing were between the ages of 17 and 22.
"I realize that they could have been my students," Albanese said. "And once it all became physical, you could get a sense of that while walking through and looking at these metallic dots on walls."
It was even more personal because Albanese was on a path toward military service. In college, he was involved in military training toward a career with the Navy, but he opted to pursue architecture instead.
"I completed my training with friends who did not return from Vietnam," he said, adding that he hopes that the new memorial will have meaning for all people, regardless of whether they wear a uniform.
"The presence of the memorial will certainly have a real impact. It may give pause or thought that we are here because of them. That's the hope."
Eight of the 1,177 men who lost their lives on the USS Arizona during the attack on Pearl Harbor were from Arizona. At the USS Arizona Mall Memorial dedication, a bell salvaged from the ship and permanently housed at the Student Union Memorial Center was rung for each. The eight:
- George Allen Bertie Jr., Seaman 2nd Class, from Phoenix
- Louis Edward Cremeens, Seaman 1st Class, from Yuma
- James Williams Horrocks, chief gunner's mate, from Nogales
- James Randolph Van Horn, seaman, from Tucson
- George Sanford Hallowell, coxswain, from Phoenix
- Harvey Leroy Skeen, Seaman 2nd Class, from Miami
- Roy Eugene Wood, fireman, from Yuma
- James Joseph Murphy, Seaman 1st Class, from Bisbee
For more UANews images from the dedication, click here.
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