Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza
|Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza|
USS Arizona Signal Mast
|Operated by||City of Phoenix|
The Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza is an urban park and gathering place, located in front of the Arizona state capitol complex in downtown Phoenix, Arizona. It serves as a home to a number of memorials honoring prominent figures in Arizona history as well as memorializing significant wars and other events that have affected the state. It is designated as one of the Phoenix Points of Pride.
The plaza was established on March 9, 1978, by the Arizona Legislature  in honor of Governor Wesley Bolin, who had died a mere 5 days previously on March 4. Prior to the resolution creating the plaza, it had simply been a part of the Legislative Governmental Mall. While the plaza exists only as a part of the Mall, in common usage the terms are interchangeable and the name of the plaza is often used in preference to the Mall.
Much like the National Mall on which it is loosely based, the Legislative Governmental Mall is intended as an open-air public space featuring monuments, memorials and gardens. Some of these monuments were erected prior to the inception of the Plaza, such as the monument to the USS Arizona which was dedicated over a year earlier on December 7, 1976. The Plaza, when dedicated, included these existing memorials and all subsequent memorials have been located within the boundaries of the plaza.
Also located in the Plaza is the memorial dedicated to the 158th Infantry Regiment, the oldest and most prestigious unit in Arizona. The monument, based off a captured Japanese monument in the Philippines, stands as one of the few if only memorials to the regiment which served as one of the premier units of World War II.
Owing to its location directly in front of the state capitol, the plaza has also become a meeting place and a focal point for protests and demonstrations, such as the 2006 United States immigration reform protests, with Phoenix participants culminating in a rally at the plaza. Over 100,000 participants took part in the display.
Monuments and memorials
The plaza is home to 30 memorials dedicated to topics including important individuals, organizations, and events. Among the more prominent are the mast, anchor, and a 14-inch gun of the USS Arizona, memorials to major wars such as World War I, World War II, the Vietnam War, the Korean War and Desert Storm, and America's first monument of the Bill of Rights. Also of note are some memorials that have caused considerable controversy, as mentioned below.
The following is a full list of memorials found at the plaza.
- Wesley Bolin Memorial Marker
- Father Kino Statue
- 158th Regimental Memorial
- The Bill of Rights Monument
- Arizona Pioneer Women Memorial
- Ten Commandments Memorial
- Civilian Conservation Corps Memorial
- 4th Marine Division, World War II
- Law Enforcement Memorial
- World War I Memorial
- Confederate Troops Memorial
- Jewish War Veterans Memorial
- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial
- Armenian Martyrs Memorial
- Desert Storm Memorial
- American Merchant Seaman Memorial
- Father Albert Braun Memorial
- Arizona Peace Officers Memorial
- Korean War Memorial
- USS Arizona mast
- USS Arizona anchor
- USS Arizona 14-inch gun
- USS Missouri 16-inch gun
- Vietnam Veterans Memorial
- Ernest W. McFarland Memorial
- Purple Heart Memorial
- Arizona Workers Memorial/ El Pasaje
- Arizona Crime Victims Monument
- Arizona Law Enforcement Canine Memorial
- Arizona 9/11 Memorial
- Navajo Codetalkers Memorial
- Operation Enduring Freedom Memorial
- Granite Mountain Interagency Hotshot Crew
Due to the sometimes controversial nature of the events or subject matter of the monuments in the plaza, they have become the subject of intense criticism and sometimes even legal battles.
Ten Commandments monument
Predating the creation of the Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza, the monument had originally been erected in 1964 by the Fraternal Order of Eagles in connection to Cecil B. DeMille and his 1956 film The Ten Commandments; it was relocated to the park more than a decade later. The monument became the subject of a removal challenge in 2003, when the state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union complained it serves no secular purpose, thus violating the separation of church and state. The monument remains in the plaza, but controversy surrounding its inclusion on government-operated property continues.
Arizona 9/11 Memorial
The memorial to commemorate the September 11, 2001, attacks was unveiled on the fifth anniversary of the attacks, September 11, 2006. Almost immediately, criticism that the memorial contained anti-American sentiment began to surface. Some of the descriptions have also been described as meaningless.
In response to the critics, the commission in charge of the memorial's design and construction has promised to review it and make changes if necessary. This process is ongoing.
- "HB2104 - 461R". Arizona House of Representatives.
- "100,000 are expected for pro-migrant march". The Arizona Republic.
- "Immigration march cost Phoenix over $300,000". The Arizona Republic.
- "ACLU: Thou shalt not use Ten Commandments monument at State Capitol". Arizona Daily Sun. July 26, 2003.
- Benson, Matthew. "Attack memorial stirs more attacks". The Arizona Republic.
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