For those who gathered in Kenai and Soldotna for Memorial Day ceremonies it wasn't about the beginning of summer, family barbeques or remembering those who have passed away, it was a day to remember and be thankful for those who died defending our liberties. "It bothers me when people wish me a Happy Memorial Day or have a good weekend. What I feel would be appropriate is if they wished me a Thankful Memorial Day," said Martin Hall, Chaplin AMVETS Post #4 as he gave the benediction at the Soldotna ceremony. A return to the meaning of Memorial Day was the theme underscored by speakers in Kenai at the Avenue of Flags ceremony and at the first Memorial Day ceremony ever to be held in Soldotna at the new City Community Memorial Park. "It was a new experience for us and I was hoping we would have good turn out like we did and that's encouraging to us to see that people are interested in breaking new ground and remembering the real reason for Memorial Day," commented Herb Stettler, Chaplin VFW Post # 10046.
In his keynote address for the historic ceremony Iraq War Veteran, Major Martin Hanson USAF said, "As fewer and fewer people are called upon to serve this nation it becomes easier and easier to forget what Memorial Day means and sometimes returning to the roots is a good place to start in rebuilding or maintaining the importance of the day," he said. Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service. Dozens of cities and towns lay claim to being the birth place of Memorial Day, "It is not important who was the very first, what is important is that Memorial Day was established. Memorial Day is not about division. It is about reconciliation; it is about coming together to honor those who gave their all," said Hanson in his address. Quoting an address to Congress 1999 by U.S. Senator Inouye of Hawaii Hanson said, "In our effort to accommodate many Americans by making the last Monday in May, Memorial Day, we have lost sight of the significance of this day to our nation. Instead of using Memorial Day as a time to honor and reflect on the sacrifices made by Americans in combat, many Americans use the day as a celebration of the beginning of summer. My bill would restore Memorial Day to May 30 and authorize our flag to fly at half mast on that day. In addition, this legislation would authorize the President to issue a proclamation designating Memorial Day and Veterans Day as days for prayer and ceremonies honoring American veterans. This legislation would help restore the recognition our veterans deserve for the sacrifices they have made on behalf of our nation. As of today, no further major action has been taken by the Committee on this bill," he said.
"We are grateful for all the Veterans groups here and Kenai who put together ceremonies at both locations they did a great job and it was thrilling to have one at the Soldotna Park, we appreciate everyone who turned out for the ceremony including all the folks who worked to finally get Soldotna a Community Memorial Park and regardless of which location they favored they were here today as one community remembering those who gave their lives for our liberties," said Mayor Micciche.