Without a doubt, the Anthem Veterans Day Ceremony is a major point of pride in the community where thousands usually gather at the memorial to pay their respects to those who served our country.
All of the same recognition will happen this year, except it will be celebrated virtually to comply with the governor’s COVID-19 executive order banning groups of more than 50.
“At the end of the day, our goal is to still honor the veterans of our community and of our country but do it in such a way that we also keep the community at large safe to the extent possible during a public health crisis,” said Kristi Northcutt, Anthem Community Council’s director of communication and public affairs.
At 10 a.m. Veterans Day, the Anthem Community Council will air a prerecorded video of the ceremony on its Facebook page and YouTube channel. The video will feature the Daisy Mountain Veterans and a variety of speakers, as well as the presentation of the veterans’ service award winner.
All the different service branches will be saluted and there will be music provided by the Musical Theatre of Anthem, “much of the same components of the ceremony that we would be doing if we were having the ceremony in person,” Northcutt said.
Attendees will be able to take in the sight of the solar event at 11:11 a.m., when the sun shines directly through the Veterans Memorial, via live broadcast.
While it’s not the best situation, “it was never even a consideration for us to cancel the event,” Northcutt said.
“We knew that it had to take place in some form, and so while this isn’t ideal for everyone, it still gives us the opportunity to do that in the safest way possible under the circumstances.”
Before the board voted to make the event fully virtual, it surveyed different alternative options presented by the Anthem Community Council staff during an open meeting, like making it a smaller-scale or hybrid event, Northcutt said. However, considering the situation, the board decided to go fully virtual so people could enjoy the celebration safely.
“Of course, some people were disappointed by the decision,” Northcutt said. “We were disappointed to have to make it; in fact, we were heartbroken. This is our favorite event of the year. We love putting on this event. We love what it means, what it stands for—we love the community’s veterans.”
Northcutt personally plans the event with her team and chooses the speakers. “It’s close to my heart,” she said.
Northcutt reminisced on some of the most special moments of past Veterans Day ceremonies.
Last year, Northcutt said two veterans who went on an Honor Flight together and had lost touch over the years were reunited. Organizers were able to find the 101-year-old WWII veteran and reunite the two.
Two years ago, a Vietnam veteran was brought to Anthem to speak at the ceremony. He was united with family members of the men in his unit who had been killed in action in Vietnam and was able to meet them for the first time.
“Those are kind of the stories that come out of this,” Northcutt said. “For that 1 hour and 11 minutes, that one day a year, it feels like a completely different place.”
While the ceremony has been moved to a virtual format, Northcutt said people who didn’t see the news are still anticipated to visit the memorial.
The memorial still will be formally decorated in wreaths and flags and will be protected by security. Visitors won’t be asked to leave; however, crowds are discouraged, and people are expected to wear masks and follow social distancing.
View the ceremony at facebook.com/AnthemCommunityCouncil.