'Mourning and meaning'
Hundreds of people respectfully roamed the sun-drenched grounds of the Fort Richardson National Cemetery Monday during the facility’s Annual Memorial Day Service.
“This is a day for both mourning and meaning,” said Glenn Madderom, Chief of Cemetery Improvements and Development for the National Cemetery Administration.
Dignitaries and veterans sat beneath shaded tents while hundreds of members of the public paid their respects during the hour-long ceremony, which included speeches by U.S. Sen. Mark Begich and Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell.
Begich thanked all veterans, both living and dead, for their sacrifices.
“It’s because of your service that we can be here today,” he said.
Parnell, too, praised the men and women of the armed services.
“They are valor,” said Parnell. “And breathtaking is the sum of their heroism.”
Parnell said Memorial Day holds special significance in Alaska, which has more veterans per capita than any state in the nation, according to the Dept. of Veterans Affairs.
“This is home to an incredible number of patriotic veterans,” he said.
The ceremony concluded with a 21-gun salute, the playing of Taps and the playing of the Armed Services Medley by the U.S. Air Force Band of the Pacific. Bugles Across America played “Echo Taps” to close out the event by sending the haunting tune echoing across the cemetery grounds.
Wasilla’s Dustin Richmond, a former Marine, attended the ceremony with his family. Richmond’s father served in Vietnam and is buried at the cemetery. Following the ceremony Richmond said Memorial Day isn’t a somber occasion, but rather a time to honor the sacrifices made by America’s men and women in uniform.
“It’s a good day,” he said.
Glenn Madderom said the best way to honor the fallen is for Americans to continue fighting for the ideals of freedom.
“They did not fail us,” Madderom said. “We must not fail them.”
Contact Matt Tunseth at 694-2727 or [email protected].