What we’re celebrating


Posted: Friday, May 26, 2006

Although it’s what many people on the Kenai Peninsula associate it with, Memorial Day weekend isn’t just about fishing. It’s a time to remember those who have died in battle for this country.

Originally called Decoration Day, the holiday was first widely observed on May 30, 1868, to commemorate the sacrifices of Civil War soldiers by proclamation of General John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of former sailors and soldiers.

In 1966, the federal government, under the direction of President Lyndon Johnson, declared Waterloo, N.Y., the official birthplace of Memorial Day. They chose Waterloo — which had first celebrated the day on May 5, 1866 — because the town made Memorial Day an annual, communitywide event, during which businesses closed and residents decorated the graves of soldiers with flowers and flags.

Today, Memorial Day is celebrated at Arlington National Cemetery with a ceremony in which a small American flag is placed on each grave.

Also, it is customary for the president or vice president to give a speech honoring the contributions of the dead and lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Communities across the country, including those on the Kenai Peninsula, take part in annual events to commemorate the day.

On the central peninsula, the Avenue of Flags begins at 10 a.m. at Kenai City Cemetery. This will be hosted by Kenai American Legion No. 20.

At 1 p.m., Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski is scheduled to speak at Leif Hansen Memorial Park in Kenai. This will be hosted by the Veterans of Foreign Wars Soldotna Post No. 10046.

Following the 1 p.m. service, an open house will be hosted at the VFW Hall in Soldotna, the AmVets Post on Kalifornsky Beach Road and the American Legion in Kenai.

All of these are open to the public.

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