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Join us for the 2020 Phoenix Veterans Day Online Celebration

Can you believe Veterans Day is just a few weeks away?

Depending on how you view it, 2020 has either flown by or inched by – and that has definitely been the case for us at Honoring America’s Veterans.

In February, we selected the Phoenix Veterans Day Parade theme, USA, A Beacon of Liberty, just before it became clear just how much of an impact COVID-19 would have on our country and our community.

As the year progressed, we faced many difficult decisions, including the one we made to transform our beloved, traditional parade into a unique, online celebration.  Through these transitions, the theme we chose has been true to its name, shining both a beacon of liberty and hope.

This year, on November 11, at 11 a.m., we invite you to join us for an online event to honor, recognize and celebrate our veterans for the sacrifices they’ve made the commitment they’ve shown to our country and our freedom.

This year’s virtual Veterans Day event will:

  • Honor the seven “Honor Our Heroes” veterans who have served our country from World War II to the present day. We will share their stories and honor their service.
  • Recognize the many sponsors and organizations that not only support the Honoring America’s Veterans organization but also provide important services, support, and recognition of the veterans in our community.
  • Celebrate the USA, A Beacon of Liberty High School Essay Winners, and hear, in their own words, just what the meaning behind this awesome theme means to them as they read their winning essays.

Please mark your calendars and log onto your computers on November 11, 2020, at 11 a.m. as we stream live to the HAV Facebook and YouTube pages.



Veterans Day High School Essay Competition Now Open through Sept. 13

Honoring America’s Veterans (HAV) is inviting all Arizona High School students to share their stories of inspiration, hope, and gratitude for veterans by entering the annual Essay Competition. HAV awards cash prizes to the top four entries and their teachers.

This year’s theme is The USA, A Beacon of Liberty.  Essay judging will focus on the theme, creative writing, grammar, originality, and content.

“This year’s theme is especially poignant. In the challenging times we’re living in, and we can all use a beacon of light to help us see the way forward.  We believe that beacon will come from the next generation of young men and women who are starting their journeys”, said HAV President Brian Ishmael.

The competition is open to students in grades 9-12 in Arizona, including those who are homeschooled or attend online schools. Essays must be between 300 and 500 words long and include the student’s name, age, and grade, a teacher or parent’s name (if homeschooled), email and phone number, school name, address, and phone number. Entries must be submitted online.

The HAV Phoenix Veterans Day Event Essay Team will review all entries and choose the winners.   In addition to cash prizes, the top four entries will receive recognition during the 2020 Phoenix Veterans Day Online Event, and HAV will post the winning essays online.  Additionally, the teacher listed on the winning student’s entry will receive a cash reward to use for his or her classroom.

“Being an essay winner was such an honor,” says Koriana Cannon, a contest winner from 2016. “Meeting the veterans and being part of the parade is an experience I will never forget. It made me even more thankful for all the people who have risked and lost their lives for America. You are my heroes.”

Every year I look forward to the opportunity to read the winning essays because they leave me inspired, awed, and hopeful for our future.  If you know a high school student, please encourage them to submit an entry online now through Sept. 13, 2020, at https://www.honoringamericasveterans.org/essay-competition/.


“Honor Our Heroes” Nominations now open for Phoenix Veterans Day Event

Phoenix, AZ – Pride. Patriotism. Service. These are characteristics Honoring America’s Veterans (HAV) seeks in candidates for the 2020 “Honor Our Heroes” nominees.  Nominations are open now through August 31.

The Phoenix Veterans Day Parade is typically a large-scale special event with thousands of participants and spectators.  Due to COVID-19 and to embrace public safety guidelines, this year’s event will move from in-person to online. Thus, these nominees will take the place of the Parade’s traditional Grand Marshals.

Organizers say the spirit of Honoring America’s Veterans will continue.

“During this challenging time, it is important for us to keep the focus on honor, respect, and gratitude for nation’s veterans on Veterans Day,” said Paula Pedene, Honoring America’s Veteran’s new executive director. “Highlighting them, and those who support them in our community, will remain an integral part of our efforts whether they be online or another forum,” she added.

The 2020 “Honor our Heroes” nominee competition selects recipients from each era of service who then represent their comrades.  Eras include:

  • World War II − 1941 to 1945
  • The Korean War − 1950 to 1953
  • The Vietnam War − 1958 to 1975
  • Cold War − 1945 to 1991
  • Desert Storm − 1990 to 1991
  • Operation Enduring Freedom − 2001 to ongoing
  • Operation Iraqi Freedom − 2003 to 2011

Nomination guidelines can be found online at honoringamericasveterans.org


About Honoring America’s Veterans

Since 2011, Honoring America’s Veterans (HAV), a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization strives to help Arizona’s veterans heal and reintegrate back to society through honor and recognition events. These events include the Phoenix Veterans Day Parade, the Honoring Our Heroes Veterans Grand Marshals competition, and the Parade’s High School Essay program. To learn more visit: honoringamericasveterans.org



Honoring America’ Veterans is announcing that after thoughtful consideration of the restrictions and guidelines in place because of COVID-19, we are unable to host the Phoenix Veterans Day Parade in 2020.

“The health and well-being of our nation’s veterans, our parade participants, and guests, as well as that of our volunteers, is our number one priority,” said Brian Ishmael, President of Honoring America’s Veterans. “This is not what any of us wanted, but we need to mind the challenges we face with COVID-19.”

Enjoyed by tens of thousands each year in person, this is the first time in its history the Phoenix Veterans Day Parade will not occur since its inception on November 11, 1997

“Although the parade is several months away, it takes planning and preparation to put on such a large-scale special event,” said Paula Pedene, Parade Founder.  “Additionally, our Veterans Service Organizations typically take months to plan their floats, entries, and round up volunteers to gather in a place that currently isn’t in compliance with public health guidelines.  While we are disappointed, we will not be able to meet in person; we believe that not doing so will prevent the spread of COVID-19”, she said.

“We all know what the Phoenix Veterans Day Parade means to us, as well as the significance of Veterans Day around the world,” said Howard Doyle, Commander of the Perch Base Submarine Unit.  “We had been in the parade since its inception 24 years ago, but now we need to take responsibility to help keep our veterans and our community safe,” he added.

Many of our veterans represent high-risk groups for COVID-19 complications, such as those from Vietnam, Korea, and World War II.  In addition, many veterans have unique health challenges due to their exposure to wartime effects such as Agent Orange, Post Traumatic Stress, etc.

HAV was also advised by health leaders that gathering thousands of parade participants and spectators in a two-mile space where they are often within a foot of each other, has the potential to create a high-risk environment for viral spread, including those termed as super-spreaders events.

“Although HAV will not be hosting its 24th annual Parade, we will celebrate Veterans Day with a special celebration called USA, A Beacon of Liberty. We are collaborating with the City of Phoenix, our broadcast partners, and sponsors, elected officials, and public health officials in exploring new and safe ways we can continue to honor America’s veterans on their special day,” said Pedene.

“We’re still going to honor our veterans and help educate students about the importance of their service to our county.  HAV will host an Honor Our Heroes veteran’s recognition campaign. We will also continue our Essay competition for High School students throughout the state of Arizona and award cash prizes for the winners”, added Ishmael.

The Honor Our Heroes campaign and Essay competition are now open for nominations.  You can learn how to nominate veterans and submit essays at www.honoringamericasveterans.org.



Donate Blood

As veterans, we understand what it means to be courageous in challenging times. That’s why we’re asking you to Be Bold and Donate Blood. Due to fears of the coronavirus, many citizens are canceling their blood donation appointments. We’re asking you to step in. Below is a list of our current blood donations stations. #HowWeHelpVeterans

American Red Cross Blood Drive Info:

Vitalant Blood Drive Info: (Formerly United Blood Services)


Support a Local Food Bank

Many organizations are working to put an end to the homeless veteran population, and many of them rely on food donations. Right now, there’s a stronger need for donations for many more veterans who need our help. Below is a list of organizations you can support. #HowWeHelpVeterans

St. Mary’s Food Bank:

Arizona Food Pantries:


Stay Up to Date on Valuable Resources for Veterans

Below are valuable links to help you keep up to date on the pulse of the Veterans Community. #HowWeHelpVeterans

Specific updates regarding coronavirus and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA): https://www.publichealth.va.gov/n-coronavirus/

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Hospitals. Currently, they have active screening protocols for every employee/patient/volunteer in place. Limits on visitors.

Phoenix VA Health Care System:

Southern Arizona (Tucson) VA Health Care System:

Northern Arizona (Prescott) VA Health Care System:

VA Regional Office:
(No walk-ins, appointments, counseling. File claims online)

National Memorial Cemetery Administration (NCA) of Arizona:
(Currently, there are no committal services and no burial honors and limited to 10 attendees at internment ceremonies)

Arizona Department of Veterans Services: