The town of Anthem, Arizona, founded in 1999, has made one of its top values honoring those who have served in the nation’s military and those who have made the ultimate sacrifice to preserve its freedom.
The community of approximately 30,000 people dedicated the Anthem Veterans Memorial in 2011, and it has become the focal point for ceremonies on both Memorial Day and Veterans Day each year.
The award-winning memorial consists of five pillars representing the five branches of the military, arranged in the order of precedence: Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard.
Surrounding the pillars are red brick pavers making up the “Circle of Honor,” which includes names of those have served.
On Memorial Day, red roses are placed on the names of those who died serving the country.
On Veterans Day in November, large crowds gather to observe the Great Seal of the United States being illuminated — as the sun’s rays pass through five ellipses carved out of the pillars — at precisely the 11th minute, of the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month, which marked the signing of the armistice ending World War I.
Local veterans groups — including the Daisy Mountain Veterans and the Anthem Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion posts — hosted this year’s Memorial Day ceremony Monday.
Anthem resident and retired Navy Rear Adm. William Putnam told the more than 1,000 in attendance of the pride he felt living in a community that has carried on the traditions he experienced growing up.
“You just have a small town feel to ceremonies such as this, where looking about into the audience, there are people you’ve known for 10, 15 years, and as I tried to say in my remarks, there are some real heroes out there who just quietly put away their decorations and went about their lives,” Putnam told The Western Journal.
Asked what he hoped those attending took away from the event, the Persian Gulf war veteran said, “The message of Memorial Day can be complex, but it really boils down to a simple one: I tried to make the distinction between Veterans Day and Memorial Day. Memorial Day, we stop and think about those who are no longer with us, but it’s more than that, it’s what message they left with us” of service to country in the cause of freedom.
During his remarks, Putnam noted that without the willingness of the more than 1 million Americans who paid with their very lives in military service throughout the years, there would be no Fourth of July or other blessings of liberty for the United States to celebrate.
Chuck Hale — who helped organize Monday’s ceremony — asked those on hand to join him in offering a moment of silence for two of his Marine Corps brothers who died in battle: Pfc. Domingo Arroyo in Mogadishu, Somalia, in 1993, and Master Sgt. Scott Pruitt in Helmand Province in Afghanistan in 2012.
“People thank me all the time, and I’m like, ‘Don’t thank me, I’ve got brothers who didn’t make it home,'” Hale told The Western Journal afterward.
Army Capt. Denard Honeysuckle, an Afghanistan war veteran who now serves as a recruiter in the Anthem area, said events like the Memorial Day ceremony are important because more recent generations of Americans are less likely to have contact with someone in the military.
He said only about 1 percent of the population serves and less than 25 percent have a friend or family member who has done so.
However, as to the caliber of the young Americans joining the military, Honeysuckle — the son of Air Force and Army veteran parents — said he would put them up against any who have gone before.
“I can say today we are served by the greatest, the smartest, the most technologically skilled youth, and just as patriotic as they’ve always been,” he said.
Among those participating in Monday’s ceremony were the North Valley Young Marines, made up of boys and girls ages 8 to 18.
Unit commander Marwa Cabell told The Western Journal her young troops were honored to be part of the event, both on stage and off.
“The takeaway is to never forget, always remember all of our fallen heroes who fought so bravely and didn’t make it home,” Cabell said.
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