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Editorial: Put the 'Memorial' back in Memorial Student Union

Arizona Daily Wildcat,
September 13, 1999

Deep inside the walls, hidden from most students lies the heart of the Memorial Student Union. With the news that the U.S.S. Arizona memorial will be preserved in the new student union, hopefully the opportunity to improve the exhibit will not be wasted. Take this opportunity to not only preserve the memorial, but to enhance it. Make it more accessible to the student body. Increase the security around these priceless artifacts. Make the new union a "memorial" union in a way this one never was.

Today, the memorial includes items that put a human interest angle on the tragedy that befell the U.S.S. Arizona during the attack on Pearl Harbor. Included in the exhibit are items of the sort that would not be found in any other type of museum - items like pocket Bibles recovered from the wreckage and copies of the ship's newsletter. However, as the generation inhabiting the union moves further and further from World War II, it becomes necessary to include a historical perspective as well, in order to put the human interest in its proper context. In the new student union, enough space could be devoted to put the full scope of the ship's history on display.

Today's memorial is located on the second floor of the student union. The sign beside the outside entrance does not advertise the exhibit within, but rather the restrooms, the director's office and room reservations.

Neither does the inside entrance make the memorial known to students. Above the staircase hidden behind Domino's, there is no mention of the memorial. It almost seems as though the designers tried to make it invisible to the student body.

Even if the floor plan of the new student union does not permit such accessibility, there could be more done to open the exhibit to students. Portions of the exhibit could be placed around the union, on walls and in corners. If nothing else, signs could be posted to lead students to the main exhibit.

Currently, there are no security measures to protect the items in the memorial exhibit. As these items become older and gain historical value, they also gain monetary value. Anyone who now wishes to see the exhibits can walk up and enter late at night, when the union is mostly empty. Without security measures, anyone could simply walk off with these artifacts. Security measures don't need to be elaborate. Shutting down the exhibit during reasonable hours and posting a student union employee around the exhibit would suffice. But, there should be some measure of protection. They deserve that much consideration.

As long as the university considers this exhibit to be unimportant, so will the students. A new student union is a new chance to consider where our priorities should be. Now that we have taken the first step to decide to preserve the exhibit, we need to continue on this path. A plaque on the wall, signed by Franklin Roosevelt, honors the men who died. It reads "Having dared to die that freedom might live... he lives - in a way that humbles the undertakings of most men." Let's help them live on.

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