Tuesday, November 29, 2005

 

Effort launched to rebuild the USS Arizona Memorial

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The Arizona Republic
By Peter Corbett
November 18, 2005


PARADISE VALLEY - A vow that millions of Americans made long ago, "Remember Pearl Harbor!", has not been forgotten in Arizona.

Sixty-four years after the deadly attack, a statewide campaign to raise $3 million for the USS Arizona Memorial kicked off Thursday evening at the Paradise Valley home of Clive Cussler, a bestselling author and expert on shipwrecks.

Organizers made their pitch in front of some of the Valley's big-fish donors, explaining that they hope a national fund-raising effort will collect $34 million to rebuild the deteriorating memorial on the island of Oahu, Hawaii.

"The Arizona memorial is sinking. It's in bad shape and needs to be replaced," said retired Rear Admiral Ron Tucker, co-chairman of Arizona's fund-raising committee for the Pearl Harbor Memorial Fund.

The national group plans to fund construction of a new visitor center and veterans museum on the harbor.

It was there on Dec. 7, 1941, that Japanese bombers attacked U.S. battleships, including the USS Arizona. The ship went down in nine minutes with more than 1,100 sailors entombed in its hull.

Gov. Janet Napolitano and Sen. John McCain,both honorary members of the fund's national board, urged Arizona leaders to lend their support.

The governor said that Arizona has long had an intrinsic connection to the Arizona Memorial. "I think it's very important that Arizona meet its commitment" to rebuilding the memorial, she said.

The state is halfway toward its goal after two donations were announced at Thursday's event.

Bill Swanson, chairman of Raytheon Co. in Tucson, pledged $1 million on behalf of his company.

Gerrit van Huisstede, CEO of Wells Fargo Bank Arizona and co-chairman of Arizona's fund-raising committee, presented a check for $500,000.

Two of Arizona's 200 Pearl Harbor survivors attended the fund-raiser, including John Finn, 97, the oldest surviving Medal of Honor winner.

Also, Lambert Modder, 84, of Mesa, who was a 19-year-old Navy hospital corpsman at Pearl Harbor.

Today, he visits schools where students and even teachers know little or nothing about Pearl Harbor.


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