A carillon bell tower will be dedicated Saturday during a solemn ceremony at the Arizona Veterans’ Memorial Cemetery in Marana.
The public is welcome to the ceremony, which is from 10 a.m. to noon, at 15950 N. Luckett Road. In addition to speakers, there will be a flyover by the Arizona Scorpions, former military pilots.
A retired Tucson businesswoman donated $120,000 to the cemetery foundation to purchase the bell tower, which can play hundreds of songs, said Paul Marsh, chairman of the Arizona Veterans’ Memorial Cemetery Foundation-Marana.
The donor, who will not be identified until Saturday, will receive a plaque and be recognized during the ceremony, Marsh said.
The songs played from the tower include taps, “Amazing Grace” and the “Star-Spangled Banner.” The set of stationary bells hang in the tower. Music is played from the tower through a computerized system.
The Marana carillon is similar in concept to the set of bells given to the United States in 1954 by the Netherlands, which was expressing its thanks for U.S. aid during and after World War II.
That carillon was temporarily installed in West Potomac Park in Washington, D.C., and later in a permanent tower near the Marine Corps War Memorial, also known as Iwo Jima Memorial, in Arlington, Virginia. The bell tower was officially dedicated May 5, 1960, which was “the 15th anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands from the Nazis,” says the National Park Service website.
Music from the tower comforts families and community members who “come and pay their respects” to loved ones and friends, Marsh said.
These types of bell towers can be found in national and state veterans’ cemeteries across the country, as well as in American cemeteries overseas. The bell tower serves as a living memorial to veterans who served their country honorably for the cause of freedom, according to foundation officials.
Marsh said nearly 1,000 are interred in the memorial cemetery in Marana. The Arizona Department of Veterans’ Services operates the cemetery, which is on 32 acres. The land was donated by the Kai Family Foundation in 2013.
More than half a million veterans live in Arizona. There are between 120,000 and 200,000 veterans in the Tucson area and Pinal County. Any military veteran with an honorable discharge can be interred at a military cemetery at no charge, and a nominal fee is charged for the veteran’s spouse, said Marsh.
The cemetery is at the north end of Marana, near the Pinal County line west of Interstate 10. Motorists can get off I-10 at Exit 236 and follow the signs to the Arizona Veterans’ Memorial Cemetery.