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Pearl Harbor has been memorialized all across Arizona

An Arizona Department of Transportation worker puts the finishing touches on a Pearl Harbor Memorial Highway sign in 1995. (Arizona Department of Transportation Photo)

PHOENIX – Pearl Harbor is approximately 3,000 miles from Arizona, but the naval base in Hawaii that came under Japanese attack 77 years ago has been memorialized all across the Grand Canyon State.

On Dec. 7, 1941, Japan launched a surprise strike on Pearl Harbor, killing more than 2,000 U.S. military personnel, including more than 1,000 aboard the USS Arizona, and prompting the U.S. to enter World War II.

The USS Arizona was built in the mid-1910s and named after the country’s 48th state, which was admitted in 1912.

Today, much of Interstate 10, which spans the state from New Mexico to California and passes through Tucson and Phoenix, is known as the Pearl Harbor Memorial Highway.

“That designation of I-10 across much of Arizona as the Pearl Harbor Memorial Highway came about when state lawmakers passed a bill in the mid-1990s,” Arizona Department of Transportation spokesman Doug Nintzel told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Thursday.

“ADOT’s Pearl Harbor Memorial Highway signs first went up in 1995, so our state has been honoring survivors of the attack for more than 20 years. We’d like to think that it’s also been an honorable way for the state to remember those who gave their lives on that day.”

The only portion of I-10 that isn’t doesn’t have the Pearl Harbor Memorial Highway signs is the stretch through metro Phoenix.

“The Phoenix area I-10 has the names of Maricopa and also Papago,” Nintzel said.

Artifacts salvaged from the USS Arizona can be found across the state, too.

The Arizona State Capitol Museum in downtown Phoenix has an exhibit about the USS Arizona that includes the American flag, silver service and other artifacts from the ship.

There’s also a tribute to the USS Arizona outside the state Capitol in Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza, where a mast, anchor and gun barrel from the battleship are on display.

Another USS Arizona monument resides in Glendale. The Veterans War Memorial in the West Valley suburb includes pieces that were salvaged from the ship.

In Tucson, one of two bells from the USS Arizona is housed at the University of Arizona Student Union Memorial Center and is rung annually the Sunday before the Pearl Harbor anniversary and after each home victory by the school’s football team.

The other bell is at the USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor on the island of Oahu. The national landmark is currently closed for a dock repair project and is expected to reopen in March.

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