From the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail and Sullivan Arena in Anchorage, to the Egan Expressway in Juneau and the Begich-Boggs Visitors Center at Portage, and at dozens of other sites in between, Alaskans pay tribute to many of this state's leaders by naming landmarks in their honor.
Last Friday, legislators in Juneau introduced a bill to rename the Anchorage International Airport for the state's senior statesman, Sen. Ted Stevens. It is a most appropriate and well deserved tribute to a man who has dedicated his career to service of this state.
The airport's new name, once the Legislature and the governor approve it and the U.S. Department of Transportation implements the request, will be the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport.
Bravo to all the legislators on both sides of the aisle for formally recognizing the contributions one whose accomplishments for Alaska are legendary.
No doubt ''Uncle Ted'' -- as some affectionately refer to the senator -- has done a terrific job in Congress seeing that Alaska receives its fair share of the federal dollars distributed to the states. His achievements, though, stretch far beyond mere dollars and cents.
Starting more than four decades ago, as a lawyer in the Department of Interior, Stevens had an instrumental role in the fight for statehood. His hand has been in virtually every major piece of legislation affecting Alaska since he entered the Senate in 1968.
The Alaska Native Claims Act, the Trans-Alaska Pipeline Authorization Act, and the 200-mile Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act are among his triumphs. And those are just a few. There are hundreds if not thousands of other bills and provisions in laws that he's authored to Alaska's benefit.
Over the decades, as presidents have come and gone and administration policies toward the military have varied, Sen. Stevens has remained a steadfast defender for a strong national defense and the funding necessary to support it.
He's gone to bat for every region of the state from Ketchikan to Barrow. He's championed causes for Natives, non-Natives, industries, conservationists, businesses, unions, and government and private sector employees. He's a national leader on equality issues, child protection and education.
He's done it all -- and he continues to guide Alaska toward new horizons.
By attaching his name to the Anchorage Airport -- the major point of entry into the state and a critical link to points around the world -- Alaskans are declaring their pride and respect for one of the state's greatest leaders.
Ted Stevens has earned this honor.
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