Every year on Veterans Day in the United States, hundreds of people gather around the Anthem Veterans Memorial in Arizona. And when the clock strikes 11:11 a.m., this memorial does something truly amazing to honor those who sacrificed their lives for our freedom.
“At precisely 11:11 a.m. [PT] each Veterans Day (Nov. 11), the sun’s rays pass through the ellipses of the five Armed Services pillars to form a perfect solar spotlight over a mosaic of The Great Seal of the United States.”
The time and date are to commemorate and remember the end of World War I. World War I officially ended on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month back in 1918. Veteran’s Day (also known as Remembrance Day in many other countries).
Designed by Anthem resident Renee Palmer-Jones, the five marble pillars represent the five branches of the United States military. The pillars are ordered in accordance with the Department of Defense prescribed precedence, ranging from the United States Army, the United States Marine Corp, the United States Navy, the United States Air Force and the United States Coast Guard.
It has also been engineered so that the sun will beam through the ellipses on November 11th for 100 years, if not longer.
Jim Martin, AVM chief engineer, explained the engineering behind the memorial:
“When planning the geometry of the Anthem Veterans Memorial, it was clear that the static nature of the structure would require a fixed azimuth (the horizontal angle from astronomical north to the center of the sun on Nov. 11 at 11:11 a.m. that creates the horizontal illumination of the Great Seal) and a fixed altitude angle (the vertical angle for zenith, or horizon, to the center of the sun on Nov. 11 at 11:11 a.m. that creates the vertical illumination of the Great Seal).”
Even though the Earth’s orbit around the sun fluctuates every year, the engineers accounted for that. “Each year, the center of the sun is slightly offset from other years by just a few horizontal or vertical arc-seconds relative to the timing of the required azimuth/altitude position of the sun,” said Martin. “This does create a time correction that is very minor; it cannot be perfectly aligned at precisely aligned at 11:11:11 a.m. every year due to the static alignment of the memorial. To deal with this adjustment, we calculated the perfect solar position every year from 2011 to 2111 and at what time (International Atomic Time plus corrections) perfect illumination would occur.”
According to the city’s official website: “This pillar of pride provides a place of honor and reflection for veterans, their family and friends, and those who desire to show their respects to those service men and women who have and continue to courageously serve our county.”
For visitors and veterans alike, this unique memorial, it is a memorable experience. It is a fitting and moving tribute to honor those veterans who gave their lives for our freedom.