American Legion members Ray Nickleson (left), Joe Coup, and Alvin Diaz leave the Kenai Cemetery after participating in a Memorial Day ceremony on Monday, May 29, 2017 in Kenai, Alaska. (Ben Boettger/Peninsula Clarion)

American Legion members Ray Nickleson (left), Joe Coup, and Alvin Diaz leave the Kenai Cemetery after participating in a Memorial Day ceremony on Monday, May 29, 2017 in Kenai, Alaska. (Ben Boettger/Peninsula Clarion)

Community remembers the fallen

Flags flew and poppies were laid across Kenai and Soldotna in remembrance of those who died in active military service on Memorial Day, observed Monday.

The morning started at the Kenai Cemetery for the Avenue of Flags, where the cemetery was lined with a bold display of American flags, and then moved to Leif Hansen Memorial Park in Kenai, for a ceremony hosted by the Veteran’s Coalition of the Kenai Peninsula and, later, a second ceremony hosted by the Veteran’s of Foreign Wars in Soldotna Community Memorial Park.

“Today we pay tribute to those heroic patriots who paid the ultimate sacrifice,” VFW Post 10046 Commander John Walker said. “Who bravely rose up and fought for something greater than themselves, protecting a home they never came home to.”

There were several familiar faces at each ceremony, participating in the posting of colors, the reading of “In Flanders Fields” and the 21 Gun Salute, setting aside a major portion of their day to remember those who have lost their lives to protect.

“It’s emotional,” Norm Mortenson, of Soldotna and representative of AmVets Post 4, said. “I miss some of my friends that didn’t make it. Freedom is not free, and they paid for it.”

During the ceremony in Kenai, Steve Wright took the opportunity to speak up for a certain type of veteran.

“Our Agent Orange veterans are casualties of war,” Wright said. “We made a promise never to forget, and there are over 300,000 affected by Agent Orange that have no purple heart, no recognition.”

The community came out to show support at each of the ceremonies, with many community members taking a moment to place poppies in remembrance.

“We often forget that the sacrifice doesn’t just affect a family — it affects all of us,” Senator Peter Micciche (R-Soldotna) said after placing a poppy. “The loss of one changes history forever.”

Reach Kat Sorensen at kat.sorensen@peninsulaclarion.com.

AmVets Post 4 representative Norm Mortenson of Soldotna lays a wreath in Soldotna Community Memorial Park during a Memorial Day remembrance event on May 29, 2017 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Kat Sorensen/Peninsula Clarion)  AmVets Post 4 representative Norm Mortenson of Soldotna lays a wreath in Soldotna Community Memorial Park during a Memorial Day remembrance event. (Kat Sorensen/Peninsula Clarion)

AmVets Post 4 representative Norm Mortenson of Soldotna lays a wreath in Soldotna Community Memorial Park during a Memorial Day remembrance event on May 29, 2017 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Kat Sorensen/Peninsula Clarion) AmVets Post 4 representative Norm Mortenson of Soldotna lays a wreath in Soldotna Community Memorial Park during a Memorial Day remembrance event. (Kat Sorensen/Peninsula Clarion)

Jacob Fite, Sons of the American Legion Post 20, participates in the posting of colors during the Memorial Day Ceremony held at Leif Hansen Memorial Park in Kenai, Alaska on May 29, 2017. (Kat Sorensen/Peninsula Clarion) Jacob Fite, Sons of the American Legion Post 20, participates in the posting of colors during the Memorial Day Ceremony held at Leif Hansen Memorial Park in Kenai, Alaska on May 29, 2017. (Kat Sorensen/Peninsula Clarion)

Jacob Fite, Sons of the American Legion Post 20, participates in the posting of colors during the Memorial Day Ceremony held at Leif Hansen Memorial Park in Kenai, Alaska on May 29, 2017. (Kat Sorensen/Peninsula Clarion) Jacob Fite, Sons of the American Legion Post 20, participates in the posting of colors during the Memorial Day Ceremony held at Leif Hansen Memorial Park in Kenai, Alaska on May 29, 2017. (Kat Sorensen/Peninsula Clarion)

Madeline Edelen of Kenai participated in the Memorial Day Ceremony at Leif Hansen Memorial Park as the American Legion poppy girl on May 29, 2017 in Kenai, Alaska. (Kat Sorensen/Peninsula Clarion) Madeline Edelen of Kenai participated in the Memorial Day Ceremony at Leif Hansen Memorial Park as the American Legion poppy girl on May 29in Kenai. (Kat Sorensen/Peninsula Clarion)

Madeline Edelen of Kenai participated in the Memorial Day Ceremony at Leif Hansen Memorial Park as the American Legion poppy girl on May 29, 2017 in Kenai, Alaska. (Kat Sorensen/Peninsula Clarion) Madeline Edelen of Kenai participated in the Memorial Day Ceremony at Leif Hansen Memorial Park as the American Legion poppy girl on May 29in Kenai. (Kat Sorensen/Peninsula Clarion)

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