According to the Encyclopedia Americana, "The custom of placing flowers on the graves of war dead began on May 5, 1866, in Waterloo, New York, and Waterloo has been recognized by Congress as the official birthplace of Memorial Day. After World War I, the day was set aside to honor the dead of all American wars, and the custom has been extended to pay homage to deceased relatives and friends, both military and civilian."
As we remember Memorial Day 2002, Americans are more patriotic and introspective. We are almost nine months away from the terrorist attack on New York City and the Pentagon, and that event has given birth to a great outpouring of national pride and civic respect the likes of which have not been seen since the end of World War II and the landing of Americans on the moon.
On May 15, our local communities and all Alaskans remembered all those in uniformed services of law enforcement that have lost their lives protecting us. We especially remember officers C. E. Swackhammer and James Moen from the central Kenai Peninsula.
On May 17, the Soldotna Little League began its season with a celebration honoring all the local emergency services heroes. Each red, white and blue fire hydrant in Soldotna is a tribute to their service.
This month our community remembers two marvelous women that served our communities and country, Sally Bailie and Mildred Martin, who both died earlier this month. Both women and the families they nurtured and from whom they were nurtured have greatly enriched our area and our understanding of the words from the Pledge of Allegiance "one nation, under God." Both will be remembered fondly.
As we head into the future, we should be hopeful and dedicated Americans. We should celebrate the achievements of our children, children like Amber Hall, a home schooled eighth grader that on Friday was honored by the local Veterans of Foreign Wars for her essay contest entry that was the VFW state winner and took eighth place in the nation. Her words are an inspiration to us all.
We should be thankful for all those remembered and participating in the Relay for Life that took place this weekend. This is a most positive way to fight cancer and reflect upon the value of each life. Shane Hawkin's valor during his years with cancer will walk with me.
And finally, let us remember all the brave members of our armed forces, living and dead. Soldotna High School graduate David Douthit will be memorialized later this summer as we re-name the Kenai River Bridge after him.
But equally as important, let us show our appreciation and respect for all those veterans who served and are still serving our communities. God bless America.
Dave Carey is the mayor of Soldotna. One of his visions for his city is that it would become the patriotic capital of the state.
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