Speaker Jim Herrick, commander of American Legion Post No. 20 stood before the crowd gathered at Soldotna Community Memorial Park, in the rattling wind, Monday. He raised a polished marble cane in his right hand and directed it before him.
Herrick said he was proudly pointing at the families and community members he had seen at the previous Memorial Day services in Kenai and Soldotna.
Services began in the morning, at the Kenai City Cemetery.
Three boys dressed in full uniforms of their own, approached veterans after the Avenue of Flags ceremony to personally thank each one.
The Brown brothers, members of Boy Scout Troop 152, wore their Eagle Scout and Star Scout uniforms to the event.
Brothers Tyler, 18, Brett, 16, and Derek, 13, attend Memorial Day events annually and do a flag ceremony at Boy Scout meetings. Their mother, Jennifer Brown, said she taught her sons to respect veterans and troops.
“That’s the least we can do for them,” Jennifer Brown said.
Tyler Brown said learning to respect veteran’s starts at home. He said instead of talking about how terrible war is, families should discuss honoring the people who have served and are serving.
Tyler Brown said he does not think enough younger people pay their respects to veterans, which was evidenced by the low turn out of that age group at the Avenue of Flags ceremony.
Brenda Trefren also attends memorial services with her five children each year. During the Leif Hansen Memorial Park ceremony, the family walked single file to the base of the memorial obelisk to lay their handmade wreathes and tiny poppies.
“We have ten names in our wreath,” Trefren said, referring to the many grandfathers and great grandfathers who served in their family.
Trefren’s son, Daniel Trefren, said he liked seeing the lines of flags speckled throughout the city every year. His sister Sarah Trefren said she likes the flags because they are a reminder of her freedoms.
Jeannette Rodgers attended the Leif Hansen Memorial Park service with her husband and former U.S. Army man Chuck Rodgers. She said the couple attends the service every year, which offers the chance to remember with like-minded community members.
Chuck Rodgers said remembering includes anyone that has made a sacrifice. He was pleased when the speakers mentioned Alaska State Troopers Gabriel “Gabe” Rich and Sgt. Patrick “Scott” Johnson, who were killed in Tanana while on duty, on May 1.
Chuch Rodgers’ friend Larry Croft who served in the U.S. Navy, added it is a wonderful chance to thank the firefighters working to protect the community from the Funny River Fire as a group.
Alaska State Sen. Peter Micciche and Soldotna Mayor Nels Anderson spoke at the afternoon service at Soldotna Community Memorial Park.
From a soldier who lost his life to a Bayonet in Gettysburg, to an officer who died on a lonely slope in Korea, Micchiche asked the audience take time on Memorial Day to remember the final moments of the fallen.
“Your only job today is to remember,” Micciche said.
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