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UA's USS Arizona Memorial touches lives on Pearl Harbor Day

Posted at 8:15 PM, Dec 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-08 00:15:33-05
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - The Navy calls it a shakedown cruise the first time a ship goes to sea.  
It's a time to see if the ship really does what it was designed to do.
These first few days since its dedication have been a shakedown for the memorial on the UA mall to USS Arizona and her crew, and the memorial is accomplishing its mission, to help students understand what they have in common with the Sailors and Marines who died at Pearl Harbor.
At UA the semester's almost over.  Exams will start soon but this special spot made students reflect on something bigger than themselves.
This is the mall's new memorial to an old wound: The sinking of USS Arizona and the loss of 1177 Sailors and Marines.
The medallions show the years lives began and ended---lives of 18, 19, 20 years.  The ages many UA students are right now.
Freshman Alexandra Nieland says, "I did notice that.  That was really--that's scary to know that a thousand men lost their lives and they were all still in their adolescence or early 20s.”  
KGUN9 reporter Craig Smith said: “A lot of life ahead of them..." 
Nieland: “Yeah.  It's the sacrifice they made for the rest of us to be here."
Glenn Whittekend is a student, and a Sailor in the modern Navy. He was in his dress blue uniform because he’d just attended a funeral for a Navy friend who died of natural causes.
He says,  "Seeing those names and those ages for those of them that are 20, 21 years old or even fresh out of high school and seeing the difference that they made in their short life I'm sure that definitely makes a big impact."
Thinking of the message in the memorial, UA senior Chandler Corley-Essex says, "You get to walk around and feel appreciative of the life you get to lead and the lives that others may or may not have gotten to.  I think it's a very special thing."
Understanding the sacrifice of young people like them is what retired UA architecture dean Chuck Albanese hoped for when he designed the memorial.
Watching people feel the impact of the memorial he said, “Jjust watch this couple over there beyond.  They're counting, they're looking at ages when they start touching them."  
Craig Smith asked: “And that was one of the things you most wanted to do.” 
Albanese: “They needed to connect.  It's probably exceeding any of our expectations."
People of all ages are drawn to the memorial.  Some remember their service and their shipmates.
Sharon Allen has another reason to come there and reflect on service, sacrifice, and youth.
Tears fell from her eyes as she said, "My daughter is actively serving in the Navy right now and she's on a deployment on an assault carrier so this just seemed like I needed to be here today."