Ten years ago, a beautiful memorial in Anthem, Arizona, was dedicated to the men and women who have sacrificed to serve our country. On Thursday, residents gathered in the Community Park, as they have every year since then on Veterans Day, to celebrate those who have served.
Each year at exactly 11:11 a.m. on Veterans Day, the sun lines up with the five pillars of the monument to form a natural spotlight on the U.S. seal that sits below the pillars.
Jim Martin, a civil engineer who led the construction of the memorial, holds it close to his heart.
“It means a lot,” he told The Western Journal. “It’s impacted my life. It’s done a lot for my career.”
Darrin Francom, vice chairman of the Anthem Community Council, said the annual Veterans Day ceremony is a hallmark of the community.
“It really has been a cornerstone of Anthem,” Francom said. “I’m a veteran, so it really has a deep meaning to me to be part of it and to see our community come out and really celebrate what makes us all Americans and the United States great.”
At this year’s event, the keynote speaker was retired Adm. Thomas Fargo, who served for 35 years in the Navy and was commander of the U.S. Pacific Command from 2002 to 2005, The Foothills Focus reported.
One of the topics Fargo covered was the importance of patriotism and democracy as countries like China threaten it.
The 10th anniversary ceremony also included a rededication of the five pillars, which represent the branches of the U.S. military. Members of the Musical Theater of Anthem and ProMusica Arizona provided musical tributes to the veterans.
Special care was taken to recognize veterans of the Vietnam War, who historically have not received the thanks they deserve.
The celebration attracted Americans from all over the state. Retired pastor Judith Rainforth said she was taking a Navy veteran from her congregation for a day trip to Sedona, Arizona, when they stumbled upon the event in Anthem.
“I happened to need gas, and it was right here at Anthem,” Rainforth said. “So it was a God thing. I said, ‘I’ve gotta take you to the memorial. I took a Vietnam vet there and it’s awesome.'”
Cecil, the Navy veteran who attended the ceremony with Rainforth, said he was also touched by the event.
“I just think it’s important, it’s an important part of our American way of life that all should be exposed to,” he said.
Some of our own veterans here at The Western Journal also gave their perspective on the importance of Veterans Day this year.
“Our generations that have passed have been through worse times,” retired Army combat engineer John Hutton said. “We can adapt and overcome. This is America.”
Editor-in-Chief George Upper, who served in the Army as a psychological operations specialist, said Veterans Day should serve as an important reminder.
“What it should be is just one more day to remind us to thank these men and women for what they’ve done, for keeping us safe, for being willing to lay it all on the line,” Upper said.
“Veterans Day is a focused time to remember that and thank them for it, but look, we ought to be doing that every day,” he said.
Today and every day, Americans around the country are thankful for the freedoms these men and women provide.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.