Memorial Day 2004 itself is now a memory.
The pride with which members of the AMVETS Post #4, VFW Post #10046, American Legion Post #20, Boys & Girl Scouts of America, and Young Marines posted the Colors under cool gray skies at Leif Hansen Memorial Park in Kenai, the youthful voices of the Skyview High School Choral Group as they sung our National Anthem, the prayers and thoughtful words of the guest speakers, the laying of the wreaths and placing of poppies in remembrance of those fallen in service of our freedom, old soldiers with tears in their eyes as they saluted a lost friend, the thrilling thunder of four F-15's as they flew over and broke away in Missing Man Formation, the nostalgic sound of a bag pipe playing Amazing Grace, the chilling echo of a solo trumpet blowing taps, and once again the hearing of the poem "In Flanders Field," all remain fresh in our minds as we look forward to a fun summer in Alaska.
Former Governor Tony Knowles and former Georgia Senator Max Cleland at Memorial Day services in Kenai.
Memorial Day indeed is a holiday set aside for remembering those who paid the ultimate price for preserving our freedoms, and appreciating those who carry the torch of protecting us today. However, it was the words read by former Kenai High School graduate, Robert Tappana, now Command Chief Master Sgt. for the 3rd Wing Pacific Air Force at Elmendorf Air Force Base in Anchorage, that again need to be written, perhaps clipped and carried in a wallet, purse, or put on the refrigerator door. The author was anonymous to Sgt. Tappana but was at the heart of what he challenged those assembled in Kenai to remember, not just this Memorial Day, but always:
"It is the Veteran not the preacher that has given us freedom of religion. It is the Veteran not the reporter who has given us freedom of the press. It is the Veteran not the poet who has given us freedom of speech. It is the Veteran not the campus organizer who has given us freedom to assemble. It is the Veteran not the lawyer who has given us the right to a fair trial, and it is the Veteran not the politician who has given us the right to vote." Tappana added that the most important thing we can do for the men and women in uniform today is to, "Remember and keep us in your thoughts and your prayers and we'll do our work and take care of the country. There are many thousands of people who have died defending this country to allow us the opportunities we have and it's important to remember them today and everyday."
Memorial Day Posting of the Colors by AMVETS Post#4, VFW Post #10046, American Legion Post #20.
One of the largest crowds to ever gather for a Memorial Day service in Kenai were on hand to hear the challenges of Sgt. Tappana and the other guest speakers that included former Governor Tony Knowles, Vietnam Veteran and U.S. Senator from Georgia Max Cleland, and recent Veteran from Iraq Charles Carrico. The 2004 Memorial Day event was hosted by American Legion Post #20 in Kenai.
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