The Anthem Community Council (ACC) presented the Anthem Veterans Service Award at the Veterans Day Ceremony, November 11. Colonel Thomas Kirk (USAF, Retired) was recognized for his service to the community.
Colonel Kirk, retired from the United States Air Force, is known throughout the country for his service and sacrifice during the Vietnam War, and as a Prisoner of War for more than five years. For his service, bravery and valor in combat, he was awarded the Air Force Cross, four Silver Stars, two Legions of Merit, two Distinguished Flying Crosses, two Bronze Stars and the Purple Heart. His service to the nation didn't end with his retirement from the military. He has shared his story and spoken on behalf of veterans at USAA, to the Veterans Heritage Service Project, the Military Officers Association of America, The Military Order of the World Wars, the Pima Air and Space Museum, at Luke Air Force Base, schools, ceremonies, churches, and clubs – just to name a few.
A quote from his nomination said, “Colonel Kirk represents Anthem and veterans like no other. He is truly a force, an absolute credit to our community. He is our hometown hero, widely respected and admired for all he has done, but also all that he continues to do.”
The ACC created the Anthem Veterans Service Award in 2013. The award, presented annually to an individual or group to recognize “extraordinary service and selfless dedication in support of our nation’s veterans,” has become a staple of the Veterans Day Ceremony, held each Nov. 11 at the Anthem Veterans Memorial. The presentation of the award occurred on Colonel Kirk’s 90th birthday.
A plaque with the names of all recipients is on display at the Anthem Civic Building. Past winners include Daisy Mountain Veterans (2013), Ray Norris (2014), Mary Ann Derryberry (2015), Elizabeth Turner (2016), Bob Hackett (2017) and John Simmons (2017).
The Anthem Veterans Memorial
Thousands were in attendance for the Nov. 11 Veterans Day Ceremony at the Anthem Veterans Memorial. Military veterans and those currently serving from all five branches, as well as their families, were honored. The ceremony also recognized the 100th anniversary of Armistice, the silencing of weapons that ended World War I at 11:11 a.m. on Nov. 11, 1918, and the 100th anniversary of the patriotic tune, “God Bless America.”
Vietnam veteran Jim Zwit (SP4-USA, Retired) and Boulder Creek High School student Emma Suttell delivered emotional and inspiring speeches about the importance of storytelling – sharing stories from service, passing down memories and military experiences to future generations – and how doing so has changed their own lives. Anthem veteran Josh Miller (USMC) delivered the invocation, and the Musical Theater of Anthem and the Arizona Veterans Band performed special music. At 11:11 a.m., the sun shone through the five ellipses of the AVM and a spotlight was cast on the Great Seal of the United States; the moment was shown live and in real time on an LED screen for attendees to witness.
Learn more about the Anthem Veterans Memorial.