Celebrating those who served

A handful of events are happening on the Kenai Peninsula this Memorial Day weekend to honor U.S. troops, veterans and fallen heroes.

For those planning to head out of town for the weekend, there is a morning event on Saturday. At the end of the long weekend, all day Monday, veterans organizations will be hosting programs.

Beginning Saturday at 9 a.m. the public is invited to the First Baptist Church of Kenai for free conference.

The conference kicks off with breakfast and two simultaneous presentations, which will begin at 10 a.m.

Lt. Col. Gerald Murphy, U.S. Marine Corps, who has served multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, will share experiences and challenges he has faced during his years of service.

His wife, Robyn Murphy, will be speaking about overcoming brokenness.

Pastor Al Week said she will answer questions and talk about what it’s like to be a spouse of someone serving in the military.

“Marines … don’t go for long deployments but they go for quick ones and usually it’s the kind that some don’t come back from,” Weeks said. “So it’s a challenge as a wife. Every time her husband would leave, she wouldn’t be sure if he would actually come back.”

The Murphys currently live in Pennsylvania with their four children. Gerald Murphy heads recruiting for the Northeast U.S.

Weeks met Gerald Murphy when he worked with military as a missionary in Belgium.

“This is the first time we’ve done anything like this,” Weeks said. “We figured it’s in honor of Memorial Day and trying to lift up and remember the fallen and defense of freedom.”

After the talks, snacks will be available and childcare will be provided throughout the day. The conference is expected to wrap up by noon.

After a few weeks of preparations and choosing speakers, local veterans groups are ready for Memorial Day.

Monday ceremonies and events begin at 10:30 a.m. with the Avenue of Flags at the Kenai City Cemetery hosted by the American Legion.

At noon locals can gather at Leif Hansen Memorial Park in Kenai for a program hosted by the AMVETS. Seating will be available for a comfortable view of speaker Col. John Pollock.

In Soldotna at the Memorial Park a service will begin at 2 p.m. and Col. Jim Halliday is the guest speaker.

“They’re going have flags on the poles and the (Veterans of Foreign Wars) is going over to put flags on the graves of the veterans,” said Herb Stettler, Korean War Veteran with the VFW said. “Yes, we are ready this year.”

Stettler said Madeline Micciche will be singing the National Anthem at both the Kenai and Soldotna programs.

The VFW will also put American flags the veterans’ graves in Kasilof this weekend, Stettler said.

“There must be almost 100 graves out in Kasilof,” he said.

The American Legion puts flags on the veterans’ graves in Kenai.

Kaylee Osowski can be reached at kaylee.osowski@peninsulaclarion.com

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