Every year on November 11, the United States observes Veteran’s Day, as a way of venerating the service and sacrifice of those who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces. Interestingly, this American national holiday coincides with Armistice Day, which in turn commemorates the end of the First World War. It marks the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month”, in the year 1918, when an armistice was signed between the Allied powers and Germany, that eventually led to the cessation of hostilities.
Situated in Anthem, Arizona, the Anthem Veterans Memorial, as the name suggests, is a structure that pays tribute to the servicemen and women of the U.S. military. Designed by local artist, Renee Palmer-Jones, the monument consists of five precisely-shaped pillars of successively decreasing heights (from 17-feet to 6-feet). The pillars stand for the five branches of the U.S. Armed Forces, in the order of preference as outlined by the Department of Defense. These include the United States Army, the United States Marine Corps, the United States Navy, the United States Air Force and the United States Coast Guard.
Furthermore, each of the pillars possesses a hollow elliptical section at its centre. Anthem-based civil engineer Jim Martin is the man responsible for aligning the different parts of the Anthem Veterans Memorial, such that at exactly 11:11 am, on Veteran’s Day each year, the sun’s rays, traversing through the consecutive ellipses, cast a brilliant solar spotlight on the image of the Great Seal of the United States on the pavement below.
Taking about her creation, Renee says:
At precisely 11:11 a.m., each year on 11-11, the sun aligns through the elliptical holes in each of the five marble pillars (each representing a branch of the U.S. military) in order to perfectly illuminate a round mosaic inlaid into the bricks; that of the Great Seal of the United States. The symbolism of the five pillars standing in formation in order to protect the United States and to complete the solar illumination is representative of U.S. military personnel working together in all regards, in the security and defense of American citizens.
The red brick pavers, together with the white pillars and the blue sky, represent the three colors of the American flag. Additionally, the names of more than 750 members of the U.S. Armed Forces have been carved onto the pavers, as a way of honoring their service to the nation. The monument has won several awards, including the Arizona Historic Landmark Designation 2012 by Arizona Historical Society, the ACEC 2012 Grand Award for Best Engineering and Environmental Consulting Project and the Arizona Public Works Project of the Year Award 2012 by Arizona Chapter of the American Public Works Association.