On Nov. 11, the Anthem community—and guests from around the Valley and beyond—will gather at the Anthem Veterans Memorial in honor of Veterans Day. This year marks the 100th anniversary of Armistice, the silencing of weapons that brought the end of World War I at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918. It also is the 100th anniversary of the well-known patriotic tune, “God Bless America.”
Both occasions will be marked during the ceremony, which begins at 10 a.m. and concludes at 11:11 a.m., in honor of Armistice, with the solar illumination of the Great Seal of the United States through the five armed services pillar ellipses (weather permitting).
Vietnam veteran Jim Zwit (SP4, USA), Chicago (right), 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 at the Anthem Veterans Memorial for each member of his unit who gave their lives in service.
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), as well as the North Valley Young Marines 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.
Veterans Parade, Charity Picnic set for November 3
The weekend prior to Veterans Day, don’t miss the Daisy Mountain Veterans’ 14th Annual Veterans Parade. The event starts at 10 a.m., beginning on Gavilan Peak Parkway near Boulder Creek High School and ending at the Community Center. Show your support and join the DMV to watch the parade floats, a flyover and a Mardi Gras-style candy toss. The parade theme this year honors veterans of the Somalia conflict. Learn more.
Following the parade, head to Community Park for the Anthem Young Professionals’ 5th Annual Charity Picnic, starting at 11 a.m. The event includes a cornhole tournament at 11:30 a.m. and the picnic benefits Youth For Troops and special veterans in need. Enjoy live music, a static hot air balloon display, bounce houses, a video game trailer, and food for purchase. The fun takes place on Softball Fields #3 and #4. Learn more.
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 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.
About the Anthem Veterans Memorial
The award-winning memorial was dedicated Nov. 11, 2011, and received Arizona Historic Landmark status six months later. Fundraising and the sale of pavers in the Circle of Honor continue. Purchase a paver or learn more about the Memorial.
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.