Pioneer Park hosts Memorial Day ceremony featuring Senator Dan Sullivan
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - CORRECTION: Col. James Watts spoke at the event, not Col. Stephen Phillips. The quote attributed to Phillips was spoken by Watts.
On Monday afternoon, Pioneer Park held a Memorial Day event commemorating soldiers and service members who made the ultimate sacrifice.
These fallen were honored, as were their families.
The 11th Airborne Division Band played the national anthem, and Parks & Recreation Director Donnie Hayes read the poem “In Flanders Field.”
Assembly members Tammie Wilson and Aaron Lojewski spoke about what Memorial Day means to them. They were followed by Colonel Stephen Phillips, Ft. Wainwright Deputy Commander for Support, who discussed the importance of teaching future generations about Memorial Day. “War and sacrifice, Afghanistan, Iraq, 9/11, these were not part of their generational experience,” he said. “Those of Generation Z, the people that we are charged with raising, they have a different generational experience. It’s one marked by COVID and division and a great many things, but war is not one of those things - and really, it is our responsibility as the adult generation to pass on the stories that we made during our time to them.”
Despite dismal conditions outside, members of the community came out to the Centennial Center to pay their respects to fallen servicemen and women.
The event also served as a remembrance for Sergeant Joel Clarkson, who died in March 2010 while serving his fifth tour in Operation Enduring Freedom.
Senator Dan Sullivan emphasized the special meaning of the day for Alaska, the state with the largest number of veterans per capita, saying, “It’s not just keeping Americans free. The U.S. Military has done more to liberate people from oppression and tyranny around the world, literally. Think about the wars, whether it’s the Civil War, or World War I or World War II or Korea, yes, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, still the same intention, to bring people freedom, literally, it’s hundreds of millions of people.”
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