On May 31, Alaskans across the state will honor the men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice while serving in the U.S. Military. Numerous Memorial Day events will be marked with prayers, cemetery visits, speeches, feasting and community gatherings.
Originally known as Decoration Day, the annual observance originated shortly after the end of the Civil War, a conflict that claimed more American lives than any other U.S. conflict in history. In 1971 the day became an official federal holiday. Each year on Memorial Day the country holds a national moment of remembrance that takes place at 3 p.m. local time.
Below are some of the events scheduled around Alaska. If you know of other events which should be included, please email the Watchman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The annual Anchorage Remembers Memorial Day event runs 9:30-10:30 a.m. at Delaney Park Strip (West 9th Ave.) It will include patriotic music from the 9th Army Band, a speech from Gov. Mike Dunleavy, a Call to Colors by the Alaska Vets Motorcycle Club (Rolling Thunder), an address by U.S. Army Major Gen. Peter Andrysiak, the laying of wreaths, a 21-gun salute, Taps and much more.
- AmVets Post 2 will host a free lunch for active and retired military from 12-2 p.m. In addition to the food, there will be live music, door prizes, and donations to local military related nonprofits. The event takes place at AmVets Post 2 (855 E 38th Ave, Anchorage). The event is open to any who have served, along with their families.
- The annual Memorial Day Ceremony at the Wasilla Wall of Honor begins at 1 p.m. Hosted by the American Legion Post 35, the event includes a keynote address by Sen. Dan Sullivan. Also in attendance will be Rep. Don Young and all the local mayors in the Mat-Su. Music will be provided by the Special Olympic Bell Ringers. Immediately following the event, there will be a Memorial Day BBQ from 2-5 p.m. for the entire community at the American Legion Post 35 in Wasilla.
- The Veterans of Foreign Wars-Taku Post 5559 in Juneau will host a Memorial Day observance at Evergreen Cemetery (601 Seater St.) from 11-11:30 a.m. The event is open to the public. The event will be held in the Veterans Section (at the flagpole) of Evergreen Cemetery.
KENAI PENINSULA EVENTS
- There will be three separate Memorial Day events on the Kenai Peninsula. Sponsored by American Legion Post 16 (Homer), American Legion Post 19 (Ninilchik) and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10221 (Anchor Point) the events include ceremonies at Hickerson Memorial Cemetery on Diamond Ridge Road at 10 a.m., Anchor Point Cemetery at noon, and Ninilchik Cemetery at 2 p.m. The events are free and open to the public. Additionally, the American Legion Auxiliary will hand out red poppies at Safeway over the weekend. The public are encouraged to wear the flowers as a traditional symbolic way to honor fallen soldiers.
- A Memorial Day ceremony will occur at Rest Haven Cemetery in Delta Junction on May 31 at noon. Located on the corner of Jack Warren Road and Tanana Loop Extension, the ceremony will include guest speaker Joel Johnson, Commander of U.S. Army Garrison in Fort Greely. Hosted by the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10450 and American Legion Post 22, the ceremony will be followed by a BBQ at the Moose Lodge on Jack Warren Road.