Each year on 11/11 at 11:11 a.m., the sun shines directly through the ellipses of the five pillars of the Veterans Memorial in Anthem, Arizona, casting a perfect solar spotlight on the glass mosaic of the Great Seal of the United States.
The five pillars represent the five branches of the U.S. military and are placed by the Department of Defense order of precedence: Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard. The memorial was designed by Renee Palmer Jones and represents the American flag, with red pavers and white carrara marble pillars standing tall beneath the backdrop of the blue Arizona sky. The names of U.S. servicemen and women are etched in the pavers.
Adding to the significance of the memorial, it opened for the first time on 11/11/11 at 11:11 a.m. November 11th is also significant because it is the day the world celebrates the armistice which ended World War I. The agreement was signed by the Allies and Germany in France on the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month,” in 1918.
Jim Martin, the chief engineer of the monument explains how they were able to achieve the beautifully timed solar phenomenon: “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).”