Each year, at a special moment, the sun aligns perfectly with five apertures in a five-pillar sculpture to cast a perfect circle of light on the Great Seal of the United States at the Anthem Veterans Memorial. Weather permitting, of course. Anthem Community Council has announced the details for this year’s event, which starts at 10 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 11.
The ceremony will honor all veterans, but also mark the 100th anniversary of Armistice, when an agreement was signed between the Allies of World War I and Germany to end hostilities on the Western Front of World War I. Armistice took effect on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. The ceremony in Anthem likewise concludes at 11:11 a.m., with the illumination of the Great Seal.
The memorial was designed by Anthem artist Renee Palmer-Jones, with the columns representing the five branches of the Armed Services. A scientist helped with the cosmic calculations that cause the alignment each year on Veterans Day.The pillars represent the five branches of the United States military. The memorial was dedicated Nov. 11, 2011, and received Arizona Historic Landmark status six months later.
The following details were provided by Anthem Community Council:
Vietnam veteran Jim Zwit, Chicago, will serve as the keynote speaker. In the A Shau Valley of Vietnam in 1971, a firefight killed eight of Zwit’s fellow soldiers in one night, and left him critically wounded. After being retrieved and sent to Japan and then Great Lakes Hospital for medical attention, he finally made it home. In the years since, Zwit has worked tirelessly to find each of his fallen comrades’ families, to give them peace and closure, and an ending to their heroic stories. His quest has become known nationwide, and a story about the mission and Zwit’s search for these families helped to earn the story’s writer a Pulitzer Prize in 2012. In a private ceremony prior to Veterans Day, Zwit will install pavers for each member of his unit in the Circle of Honor at the Anthem Veterans Memorial.
Emma Suttell, a Boulder Creek High School junior, also will speak. She serves as the President of the local Veterans Heritage Project chapter. Along with classmates and others in the area, Emma interviews and records veterans sharing their stories of service. The interview videos are archived at the Library of Congress, and each year, a hardbound book is printed with each of the veterans’ stories.
Sandra Day O’Connor High School Air Force Jr. ROTC cadets, under the supervision of Lt. Col. John Simmons (USAF, Retired) and Master Sgt. Michael Badey (USAF, Retired), will support the ceremony. Musical Theater of Anthem’s Outreach Group and the Arizona Veterans Band will provide special music, including the Armed Services Medley, with the song of each branch sung as service members stand for recognition. The ceremony will conclude with “God Bless America,” to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the well-known patriotic tune, followed by the solar spotlight (weather permitting).
Veterans Service Award
The Veterans Service Award will be presented during the ceremony. The award recognizes an individual, group, business or organization that has displayed extraordinary service or selfless dedication to our community’s veterans. Nominate through Oct. 12 at OnlineAtAnthem.com/AVM.
Logistics and directions to the ceremony
Seating and parking for the Nov. 11 ceremony is limited. Please bring lawn chairs or blankets. Parking in the lot nearest the Memorial is intended for those who cannot walk longer distances; all others, please park in the middle or lower lots, or at the Community Center and access the park via the footbridge.
A high-definition LED screen will project the ceremony and photos/videos of veterans, and will capture the 11:11 a.m. moment when the sun’s rays pass through the five Armed Services pillars’ ellipses to cast a solar spotlight over the mosaic of the Great Seal of the United States (weather permitting). Attendees will not be allowed to approach the Memorial during the ceremony or the 11:11 a.m. spotlight; the Memorial will open for visitors following the ceremony.
The Anthem Veterans Memorial is located in Anthem Community Park, 41703 N. Gavilan Peak Parkway. Take I-17 to exit 229. Turn east (right) onto Anthem Way, and then turn south (right) onto Gavilan Peak Parkway. The Memorial is on the left at the four-way stop signs and entrance to the park.
Fundraising and the sale of pavers in the Circle of Honor continue. To donate, purchase a paver or learn more about the Memorial, visit OnlineAtAnthem.com/AVM.
ACC extended a “special thanks” to the Arizona Department of Veterans’ Services, the Safeway Foundation and BrightView Landscapes, LLC for their generous support of the Anthem Veterans Memorial.