Many Americans view this weekend as simply three days off from work and school to enjoy barbecues, fishing and camping, but veterans in the central Kenai Peninsula strive to adhere to the original purpose of the Memorial Day holiday: to honor military service men and women who have died.
Kenai American Legion Post No. 20 and Auxiliary members will begin the day at 8 a.m. Monday by placing American flags and crosses at the graves of former service members in the Kenai Cemetery, at the Russian Orthodox cemetery in Old Town and along the memorial walk in Leif Hansen Memorial Park on the Kenai Spur Highway in Kenai.
Sponsored this year by the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 10046 in Soldotna, a memorial service with a rifle salute will be conducted at 11 a.m. at the Kenai Cemetery and another civic memorial ceremony will take place at 1 p.m. in Leif Hansen Memorial Park.
The afternoon ceremony will include the playing of Echo Taps by Tim Wisniewski and his son Justin; a rifle salute; keynote address by Hal Blair, associate director of the Veterans Health Care System in Alaska; and public participation in the laying of wreaths, according to Legion and VFW Service Officer Herb Stettler.
Following the 1 p.m. ceremony, the American Legion, VFW and AmVets Post in the Red Diamond Center will be open to the public for sandwiches and other light refreshments.
* 8 a.m. -- Posting of "Avenue of Flags" in Kenai city cemetery; placing of American flags on veterans' graves in Kenai city and Russian Orthodox cemeteries and Leif Hansen Memorial Park.
* 11 a.m. -- Kenai city cemetery memorial service with rifle salute.
* 1 p.m. -- Memorial Day service at Leif Hansen Memorial Park in downtown Kenai; open house at veterans' clubs immediately following.
Phil Hermanek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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