On December 4, 1960 Colonel Parker, Elvis Presley’s manager at the time, heard that the fund raising efforts to build a memorial to the USS Arizona had stalled. He then went on a campaign to remedy the situation and set up a concert in Hawaii with the stipulation the ALL the funds go to the project. The concert occurred on March 25, 1961, Though the concert raised only $54,000 toward the $500,000 goal, it kick started the fundraising and the goal was met.
As part of the original exhibit, a granite stone was placed at the shore adjacent to the resting place of the USS Arizona. It sat there keeping watch on the ship’s grave for some 49 years until a remodeling project had it replaced about 2010. The contractor in charge of the project had the stone scrapped and it spent fours year laying forgotten in a salvage yard.
While visiting friends in Hawaii in 2014, my friend Jack Norris discovered this stone slab and recognised it’s significance. He began a heroic campaign of his own to secure, ship and restore the slab to it’s original glory and place it on the soil of the state for which the doomed ship was named. Once he purchased the stone, things got dicey. The seller tried to renege on the sale (rumor was that a wealthy Japanese businessman was offering more money with plans to place it who-knows-where) but a local journalist in Hawaii got wind of the situation and exposed these shenanigans to the light of day. Finally the shady people straightened up their acts and the deal went through. A shipping plan was put together and the stone with it’s pillar stands, 1600 lbs. combined weight, were put on a boat for California by Aloha Freight. When Jack drove from Bullhead City, Arizona with his trailer to bring it home for refurbishing, he discovered that there was significantly more weight than his trailer could carry. Here a generous offer was made by the owner of the freight company to recrate everything and ship it at cost from Los Angeles to Bullhead City. Aloha Freight’s role in Hawaii and in California was instrumental accomplishing the moves over sea and land. Jack was then able to make arrangements to have the stone refurbished for $4000. All these expenses were out of his own pocket.
Even before the stone arrived in Bullhead City, some of the local powers-that-be started work to find a home for the stone in their own Arizona Veterans Memorial Park. The plan was to have a dedication ceremony on December 7th and place the stone in it’s new home, but the company in charge of the refurbishing failed to deliver the finished stone until three months later.
I was honored when asked to take some photographs of the stone memorial at it’s new home.