Arizona prepares for World War II Memorial

mn6kv2-mn6kq00522wwiimemorial0642webA World War II Memorial is coming to the state Capitol, and the last existing gun barrel from the USS Arizona will be part of its centerpiece. Secretary of State Ken Bennett, who has been active in the establishment of the WWII memorial, said he learned a couple of years ago that a barrel from the famed, fallen battleship still lived, but in outside storage, in the elements, in Virginia. “Now this is 54 feet long, weighs 70 tons, it shoots a 14-inch shell about 20 and a half miles — so it shoots a Volkswagen over the horizon, essentially,” he said during his Yuma visit Tuesday.

Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza outside the Capitol is already graced by a USS Arizona anchor and its masthead, so Bennett contacted the Navy to ask if Phoenix could be the barrel’s new home. He said the director he spoke with was hesitant at first, because the barrel is the last from the ship that went down during the attack on Pearl Harbor. Instead, he offered Bennett a gun barrel from the USS Missouri, because seven of those still exist.

But this is the state of Arizona, not Missouri.

“And then I said, well how about this? What about you give us one of each. You give us the Arizona barrel as a symbol of the beginning of the war and one of the Missouri barrels as a symbol of the end of the war, because that’s where the Japanese signed the surrender, on the decks of the Missouri,” Bennett said. That worked, and now two barrels are being restored in Phoenix. Bennett said they will be on display in time for a Dec. 7 ceremony. The Arizona barrel wasn’t actually on the ship when Pearl Harbor was attacked. It had been removed not long prior so it could have its lining changed. After the Arizona was lost, it was put to use on the USS Nevada and used during D-Day before being retired in a storage yard for more than 50 years.

The Arizona barrel and the Missouri barrel, which is even bigger than its Arizona counterpart, will flank a nine-piece metal sculpture that will feature the names of Arizonans from all branches killed in World War II.  “Each Arizonan that died in World War II will have a 2-by-12-inch nameplate etched out with a laser cutter and they will kind of hang on these little rods and they’ll blow in the wind, and kind of give you the feeling of motion and maybe waves,” Bennett said.

Bennett said the memorial has been entirely funded by private donations, with no taxpayer contributions.

Memorial pavers can still be purchased at

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