Since opening in February, the USS Arizona Memorial Gardens at Salt River has been visited by thousands of guests who pay tribute to the men aboard the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor, sharing their stories, efforts and sacrifice.
The Gardens has also reconnected many to family and friends who were lost during the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, and incited a need for them to share some remarkable stories, just as Chelsea Jordan did.
Her great, grant uncle, James Harvey Sanderson, played the clarinet and saxophone in the USS Arizona’s “last band” and died in the attack.
The community celebrated the grand opening of the USS Arizona Memorial Gardens at Salt River on the eve of the 2020 spring training season.
A few months later, the Gardens was named the 2020 Outstanding Facility Award for populations under 10,000 at Arizona Parks and Recreation Association’s Best of the Best awards show.
Located on tribal land, the gardens were built by the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community to honor those who served and those serving today.
“It is a great honor that the land of the O’odham (Pima) and Piipaash (Maricopa) is now the permanent home to a relic from the USS Arizona,” said Martin Harvier, President, of the Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community.
The gardens span the exact length and width of the USS Arizona, with over 1,500 commemorative columns, outlining the actual perimeter of the USS Arizona.
Each column is representative of a life aboard the ship that day. Additionally, there are gaps within the column outline representing an individual who survived the attack.
As the day ends, each column illuminates, transforming the memorial at night representing each individual as a light and that their light will continue to go on and stand through the test of time.
“I walked through the garden tonight for the first time and found my great uncle’s name,” Jordan said. “I haven’t felt chills like that in a long time. It is a stunning memorial. I just want to say thank you to the Community for doing such a beautiful job with it.”
The Gardens are open daily from dawn until dusk and is free to the public. Located in the Talking Stick Entertainment District at 7455 N. Pima Road between Salt River Fields at Talking Stick and Great Wolf Lodge Arizona, the relic room is staffed by volunteers. Those interested in learning more can also come by the Discover Salt River Visitor Center at 9120 East Talking Stick Way, Suite E-10, Scottsdale in the Pavilions at Talking Stick shopping center.
Information: 888-979-5010 or memorialgardensatsaltriver.com.