The veterans memorial in a small town in Arizona draws people from all over the country each year to see what happens to it at precisely 11:11 am.
Renee Palmer Jones, one of the designers of the Anthem Veterans Memorial, explained the community council’s vision when it decided to erect the unique structure, which captures the sun’s rays in such a way that the Seal of the United States is illuminated on the ground below.
Jones said she “took it as a challenge to bring attention to veterans, specifically on Veterans Day. I wanted to bring people together to cause them to come to a common place, at common time to honor veterans.”
In order to do so, she and the council turned to engineer James Martin, who calculated the exact position ellipses in the five pillars (representing the five military branches of service) needed to be to fully illuminate the seal on the 11th day of the 11th month, at the 11th minute of the 11th hour.
The time and date marks the exact end of World War I, which became Armistice Day, later re-designated Veterans Day.
The engineer told Western Journalism that his team first built a scale model to test his calculations for how the monument needed to be designed and placed. Later, a full scale model of the first pillar was placed on location to further test their measurements.
The effect is like something out of Indiana Jones’s Raiders of the Lost Ark or National Treasure.
The monument was dedicated appropriately enough on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, 2011.
Jones said the number of people attending the ceremony has grown each year, with an estimated 3000 on hand at this year’s ceremony in the small community north of Phoenix.
Vietnam Veteran Roy VanRipper from La Crosse, Wis., was among those at Wednesday’s event. He said his heart was touched to see so many people coming out to honor veterans. The former Navy man, who served on the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Constellation, said, “I’m here for my brothers [in-arms] who did not make it.”
Jones was thrilled to see this year’s crowd, noting she met people from Texas, California, Ohio and Florida, who came just to the yearly phenomena for themselves.