Reasons to remember

Soldiers past and present honored in ceremonies

Posted: Tuesday, May 31, 2005


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  Serenity DeMillo hands a paper poppy to Joan Buzzell at a Memorial Day ceremony at Kenai City Cemetary on Monday. Photo by Layton Ehmke

Vicky Nelson and Chief Marcus Hadeed of Elmendorf Air Force Base watch as Bill Bartlett, commander of the American Legion Post No. 20 in Kenai, places a wreath in Leif Hanson Memorial Park in Kenai in observance of Memorial day on Monday.

Photo by Layton Ehmke

In 137 years of laying down flowers and tributes to fallen soldiers, the tradition carries through to a new generation exposed to its own war. Those who give their service and who have given their lives in this and previous wars were honored Monday in Kenai.

The AmVets Post No. 4, the Kenai American Legion Post No. 20 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 10046 hosted a morning service at the Kenai City Cemetery and an afternoon wreath ceremony at Leif Hansen Memorial Park in Kenai on Memorial Day.


Serenity DeMillo hands a paper poppy to Joan Buzzell at a Memorial Day ceremony at Kenai City Cemetary on Monday.

Photo by Layton Ehmke

Kenai resident Joan Buzzell attended the service to honor her three brothers, husband and husband's three brothers who served in World War II. She also attended to think of a grandson who serves in the Navy and a great-grandson serving the Army.

"Today, people are not teaching what they owe their freedoms to. It will get lost if we don't teach it," she said. "Freedom is not free."

Chief Marcus Hadeed from Elmendorf Air Force Base in Anchorage addressed the Memorial Day crowd during sprinkling rain at Leif Hansen Memorial Park. He said he realized the saving capability of the American military while living on the island of Trinidad which experienced political transition as its last ties with the British crown were cut in 1976 when Trinidad and Tobago was declared a Republic. He remembers seeing American naval ships there to aid the country in its time of political change.

Hadeed said it was important to keep worldwide military efforts in mind during the day of reflection.

May 2005 passes as the 27th month of fighting in Iraq and, consequently, 27 months of death among U.S. and allied troops, insurgents and civilians there. As of Monday, at least 1,656 members of the U.S. military had died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count. At least 1,264 died as a result of hostile action, according to the Defense Department.

Winning state VFW Voice of Democracy essayist Amber Hall said there is a new generation of veterans upon us, including her cousin in Baghdad, Iraq.

"Let's show them that we're honoring them," she said.

Wreaths were laid for prisoners of war and wounded and disabled veterans. The public was invited to lay down paper poppies. Morgen Bennett put one down for her stepfather, Staff Sgt. Roy Brendible.

"I'm here for support of my stepdad. He's patrolling Baghdad," Bennett said.

VFW chaplain Herb Stettler led a prayer at the Memorial Day milepost.

"We pray for those in Iraq, Afghanistan and other points of tension," he said. "We gather to honor those who answered the nation's call."

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