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Honoring the Fallen, Past and Present
by Dick Kauffman


June 01, 2004

Ketchikan, Alaska - Yesterday's wartime Memorial Day in Ketchikan was attended by approximately 50 people who paid homage to today's and the past generations of servicemen and servicewomen who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

This year's observance carried added significance because of the war in Iraq where the sons and daughters of Ketchikan residents serve and have served, and where more than 800 Americans have died in service to their nation.

photo David Landis Ketchikan, AK Memorial Day

Ketchikan Borough Vice-Mayor David Landis...
photo by Dick Kauffman

As one of four guest speakers, Ketchikan Borough Vice-Mayor David Landis said, "This Memorial Day takes on a particular significance with our country at war, and it is important for us to recognize the meaning of this occasion in terms of the present conflict overseas."

Landis said, "In this country, at this hour, we are well aware that honorable men and women serving in our military are making incredible sacrifices every day for our freedom. Some of our heroic soldiers are sacrificing their very lives for this country, and we owe them an eternal debt of gratitude for upholding the freedoms of this great nation."

"These freedoms that are worth fighting for will always produce some exceptional soldiers and outstanding human beings, even in the face of a popular culture that seems to defy the concepts of discipline and honorable behavior." said Landis. "If one has any doubt of this assertion, a remarkable example is to be found in NFL Football player-turned-Army Ranger Patrick Tillman, who gave his life last month in combat. Pat Tillman gave up a multi-million dollar football contract, he gave up a comfortable life at home with his wife, and then he gave up his life for his country. Ranger Tillman's passing gives us a unique opportunity to focus on the meaning of Memorial Day for all fallen soldiers and their families they all have the same heartbreak and loss and pride," remarked Borough Vice-Mayor Landis.

"And now we gather around this field and these walls, where some of our own Southeast Alaskan soldiers are resting. More of our heroes may yet be coming to this final resting place, and we want to recognize and remember all of them," Landis said.

In his closing remarks, Landis said, "Hero is not too strong a word for those who gave their lives for our country. On the contrary, it is simply not strong enough."

photo Lt. Col Donald Jim, Ketchikan AK Memorial Day

Executive Officer of the Joint Task Force Alaskan Road, Lt.Col. Donald Jim of the United States Marine Corps...
photo by Dick Kauffman

Also speaking was the Executive Officer of the Joint Task Force Alaskan Road, Lt.Col. Donald Jim of the United States Marine Corps.

Lt. Col. Donald Jim said, "Our nation and the world have changed significantly since September 11, 2001." He said our Memorial Day celebrations have acquired a deeper meaning. Spending the past years solemnly recollecting the lives of more than 3,000 American service members and civilians who died during the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil, Lt. Col. Jim said "now more than ever, we recognize what it means to honor the lives of those who die in service to our great nation."

Memorial Day is a day "We honor all those who made the ultimate sacrifice defending America - those who were active duty and those who served in our reserve components. Those who were drafted and those who made the military a career," said Lt. Col. Jim.

photo Ketchikan City Mayor Bob Weinstein

Ketchikan City Mayor Bob Weinstein speaks at the Memorial Day Service Monday...
photo by Dick Kauffman

Lt. Col. Jim said today our concerns are more immediate than reflective. Instead of focusing solely on past sacrifices we also face the reality of on-going losses from our war on terrorism.

He continued, "Regrettably, the deaths of September 11 have been followed by the deaths of soldiers sent abroad to prevent other such disasters."

Lt. Col. Jim quoted President Bush, "It is our task - the task of this generation - to provide the response to aggression and terror. We have no other choice, because there is no other peace."

"These are times that test us as citizens and define our nation," Lt. Col. Jim said. "The face of battle is changing with this new war, and America's military has already demonstrated it is prepared to meet the challenge."

In his closing remarks, Lt. Col. Donald Jim said the point is that one million men and women have made the ultimate sacrifice at the request of their nation. He said their legacy will continue to live on in our memory, and we honor them as we will honor those who will come after them.

photo Commander Paul Wiedenhoeft, Acushnet

Commander Paul Wiedenhoeft, USCGC Acushnet, speaks at the Memorial Day service...
photo by Dick Kauffman

In addition to Ketchikan Borough Vice-Mayor David Landis and USMC Lt. Col. Donald Jim, other guest speakers at the Memorial Day observance were Ketchikan City Mayor Bob Weinstein and Commander Paul Wiedenhoeft, USCGC Acushnet.

Also participating in the Memorial Day service were the Sweet Adelines singing the National Anthem and a patriotic medley. Pastor Scott Hart of the North Tongass Baptist Church gave the invocation and Paster Doug Edwards of the First Baptist Church gave the benediction.

Speakers were introduced by Commander Kenneth Horn, VFW Post #4352 and the wreaths were placed by VFW Aux. President Lydia Mienar. The observance ended with the playing of Taps by Jeffrey Carlson followed by a 21 gun salute by the Alaska Army National Guard.


Photo Gallery


photo  parade

Prior to the observance at Bayview Cemetery, there was a parade to Centennial Square for a short prayer and placement of a wreath. Among those pictured are Joe Sadlier, Ken Horn and Jim Elkins... photo by Dick Kauffman


photo wreath

Commander Kenneth Horn, VFW Post #4352 and Post Commander & Chaplain Dennis Spurgeon who gave a prayer for all veterans. The wreath was then placed into Ketchikan Creek by Commander Ken Horn and by VFW Women's Aux. members.
photo by Dick Kauffman


Dick Kauffman ©2004


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