Arizona always has had a special connection to its namesake battleship, which was sunk in the Pearl Harbor attack that brought the United States into World War II. The USS Arizona is remembered especially in December, as the date of the attack was Dec. 7, 1941.
The name is one of the most famous remembrances of that long war, as the sunken ship became a tomb for many sailors and Marines and an oft-visited memorial. The dead there represented about half of the total at Pearl Harbor. Burials continued until this year, when the last USS Arizona survivor wanting to be taken there died. Lauren Bruner was among only a little more than 300 who escaped from the ship.
The connection of Arizona to the ship started long before WWII. It was named in honor of the 48th state’s entry into the Union. Arizonans, including schoolchildren, donated to purchase the officers’ silver service in 1916 and 1917, and a collection of those items is in the Arizona Capitol Museum in Phoenix.
Those donations, made long before WWII, came in days when money was no doubt in short supply in the then-new state. The service had been removed from the ship in preparation for war, and it was used later on other ships before being sent to Arizona. Other artifacts from the ship have been placed at Arizona locations as well.
Now there will be a new USS Arizona. Battleships aren’t made anymore, and they actually were somewhat outdated in WWII. The new ship will be a nuclear submarine, a type of ship that is very much in use. Specifically, it will be a Virginia-class fast-attack sub. Another new submarine will be named the Oklahoma, after another battleship that was sunk at Pearl Harbor.
The new USS Arizona will be not only an honor and source of pride for the state and Arizonans, it will honor the 1,177 sailors and Marines who died at Pearl Harbor and also the earlier ship, which was an important symbol of U.S. resilience and strength that allowed America to recover, eventually win the war and overcome the oppression that led to it.