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Salvaged bell to ring again

Photo
DAVID HARDEN/Arizona Daily Wildcat
This bell, one of two rescued from the USS Arizona, is now visible in the clock tower of the Student Union Memorial Center. The bell will begin tolling again as part of a special ceremony on Sept. 11.
By Rachel Williamson
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday August 29, 2002

USS Arizona artifact will play central role in Sept. 11 ceremony

After being salvaged from a sunken battleship in Pearl Harbor, almost melted for raw material and hidden in the old UA clock tower, the now-visible USS Arizona bell will toll once again on Sept. 11.

The bell is one of two salvaged from the sunken USS Arizona battleship, which sunk on Dec. 7, 1941, and it is now visible in the clock tower of the Student Union Memorial Center.

It will ring out during a Sept. 11 ceremony on the UA Mall.

But the bell almost met a much different end. In 1944, during World War II, the bell was scheduled to be melted for raw material needed at the time.

Bill Bowers, a 1927 UA graduate and a captain of the United States Army at the time, noticed the bell in a crate. He thought of the his alma mater UA.

"I just thought that there's only one place for this bell," Bowers said.

open quote marks
"I just thought that there's only one place for this bell,"

- Bill Bowers
UA alum

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The bell was delivered to the university in 1946.

A few years later, the bell was placed in the clock tower of the Memorial Student Union. Although the bell could be heard after each UA sports victory against out-of-state teams, it was never seen.

Ninety-nine-year-old Bowers will be the first to ring the historical bell this year on Sept. 11.

"I'm deeply honored to ring it in the new tower," Bowers said. "I don't know how I could expect anything more in my life."

The bell will ring once for each UA alumni that died in the Sept. 11 attacks last year.

Six UA alumni have been confirmed as victims of the Sept. 11 attacks, said Veda Kowalski, associate dean of students. There may be as many as eight.

According to Bowers, Sept. 11 is an ideal time for the bell to ring.

In the future, on the third Wednesday of every month, the bell will ring seven times at 12:07 p.m., said Dan Adams, director of Arizona Student Unions.

The numbers 12 and seven represent Dec. 7, the day the USS Arizona battleship sunk at Pearl Harbor.

Instead of only ringing for sports victories, the bell will also honor special awards given to UA.

Each month a list of everyone being commemorated will be posted in the union.

This tradition will probably not start until January, Adams said.

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