PHOENIX — Arizona’s World War II memorial is on pace to be ready for its opening in December.
Workers spent Saturday morning moving the gun barrels of the USS Arizona and USS Missouri into place in Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza near the Arizona State Capitol.
The work to get them here started three years ago when Secretary of State Ken Bennett — who was then the president of the Arizona Senate — learned that the gun barrels were just lying in storage.
“I suggested that we would get one (gun barrel) from the Missouri, and the last remaining one from the Arizona, and we put them out here to represent the bookends of the war — the beginning and the end,” Bennett said.
The U.S.’s involvement in World War II started with Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. Japanese war planes bombed the Arizona ship, causing it to sink. The War ended with the Japanese signing documents of surrender on the deck of the Missouri in 1945.
The Navy agreed with Bennett’s plan, and gave the gun barrels to Arizona.
Both barrels are now in position, pointing east. They are situated on the memorial, in between the Arizona’s anchor to the east, and its masthead on the west.
But those are just part of the memorial.
“In between the two gun barrels are nine steel pillars that represent the nine minutes that it took for the Arizona to sink,” said Bennett. “On the sides of those steel pillars hang about 2,000 individual nameplates, one each for the 2,000 Arizonans who were killed during World War II in all of the different branches of the military.”
Bennett said that you can add your personal touch to the memorial by buying a memorial paver that will be placed at the base of the guns.
“Families or individuals can purchase a paver,” Bennett said. “You get so many lines of text on each paver. You can honor a family member or put your name or say, ‘Thank you all veterans.'”
A dedication will take place when the memorial is fully unveiled on Dec. 7, which is Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. Click here for more information or to purchase a memorial paver.
In the video below, Matthew Roberts of the Arizona Secretary of State’s office explains some of the items that have been added to the World War II memorial.