USS Arizona Mall Memorial draws hundreds to UA campus on 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor attack

Published: Dec. 7, 2016 at 9:22 PM MST|Updated: Dec. 8, 2016 at 3:34 AM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The newly-dedicated USS Arizona Mall Memorial on the University of Arizona campus became the focal point on Wednesday, Dec. 7, for Tucsonans wishing to pay their respects on the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Young and old from all walks of life visited the memorial.

They included University of Arizona students who are the very same age as many of the men who are immortalized on the 1,177 medallions that bear their names.

All stood silently or spoke in hushed tones and stood in awe of the great sacrifice.

"You just see all these names and families that were affected by this one day. I feel like it's my duty now to pay my respects to them," Daniel Anderson said.

The full scale outline of the deck of the USS Arizona lies on the campus mall and surrounds the medallions.

They all are just below a tower that holds one of the ship's bells.

In whichever way they wished, one and all came to pay their respects.

They were students, veterans, and families who today are waiting for their loved ones to come home.

"My daughter's actively serving right now in the Navy. I just felt it was where I needed to be today," Sharon Allen said as she wiped away tears.

Many paused to read the names of the 1,177 sailors and Marines. Every name so important, so special.

"When you come here it screams sacrifice and everyone who has a plaque here has sacrificed their life for our freedom," Henry Esteban said.

There's a moment when you realize two names are the same.

Thomas Augusta Free and his son, William Thomas Free, died together that day.

"A sense of pride and gratefulness that these men were willing to sacrifice their lives to help us and give us the freedom that this country was built on," Dani McEachern said.

Richard Foran said, "I just felt that I needed to be here for a little bit. Just don't want to forget. We don't want to forget."

The permanent memorial is open to all.

When you go, you might also want to visit a UA Special Collections exhibit of USS Arizona items.

You'll find Special Collections next to the UA main library at the mall and Cherry Avenue.

The Life and Legacy of the USS Arizona will be open through Dec. 23, Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m.

This is a link to the "USS Arizona: That Terrible Day" digital exhibit.

Find the UA Special Collections homepage HERE.

Copyright 2016 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.

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