Poppies are affixed to wreaths during a Memorial Day ceremony at Leif Hanson Memorial Park in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, May 27, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Poppies are affixed to wreaths during a Memorial Day ceremony at Leif Hanson Memorial Park in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, May 27, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Remembering the sacrifices of the fallen

Speakers ask community to be inspired through sacrifice of service members

Despite light rainfall on Monday morning, roughly 100 gathered at Leif Hanson Memorial Park on Monday to commemorate Memorial Day and recognize the sacrifices of fallen soldiers.

Memorial Day celebrations were hosted by the American Legion Post 20, in collaboration with the City of Kenai. The gathering at the park featured speeches from dignitaries, a presentation of wreaths and poppies and a benediction from the post’s chaplain. It was preceded earlier Monday by a similar gathering at the Kenai Cemetery. Both events featured a presentation about Memorial Day hosted by the post and a salute punctuated by the firing of rifles.

Memorial Day, Post 20 Past Cmdr. David Segura said during the park ceremony, honors American soldiers who died in the nation’s wars. He shared stories of soldiers lost in pursuit of their duties, closing on thoughts shared by Lou Conter, the final survivor of the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor.

Conter said in 2020, according to Segura, that the men and women who went down with the ship are the heroes — who, unlike the survivors, were never able to go home, get married and have children.

“We are able to raise families, continue careers and live good lives because of the sacrifice made by young men and women who never came home,” Segura said. “We must always remember them.”

Mayor Brian Gabriel of the City of Kenai said that Memorial Day recognizes the soldiers who have given their lives in protection of “the liberties and freedoms that all Americans have enjoyed.”

Finding the words to honor that sacrifice is difficult, Gabriel said. He suggested that words are perhaps insufficient. Actions, instead, can rise to such an occasion. He called on attendees to “live our best life” by embracing their rights.

“Our country is a beacon of light and hope for many around the world,” he said, speaking to those who have endured the loss of loved ones. “It is because of you and those who have sacrificed before you that the beacon continues to shine.”

Tanya Lautaret spoke on behalf of U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who in a written statement called for recognition of “family members, friends, neighbors and colleagues that we knew, more simply, as the best of us.” She also credited the families who have endured losses as courageous and strong — deserving of “unconditional support.”

Sen. Jesse Bjorkman, R-Nikiski, said that Gabriel’s remark about actions resonated with him.

“Memorial Day should not just be about words retelling a story — but inspiring our action,” he said. “On the days when those things aren’t recognized the way that they should be, know that there are hundreds and thousands of people around you, in your community, that remember that sacrifice and appreciate it every day.”

Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Peter Micciche, the last dignitary to speak, said that Memorial Day is specifically to honor those who have passed — distinct from Veterans Day. The American soldiers who gave their lives, he said, didn’t represent any political ideology and instead represented all Americans.

To that end, Micciche called for an effort to quell division and recognize the liberties and privileges inherent in American society.

“We have things that no other country has had, that no other country will ever have,” he said. “1.2 million of us are not here — long gone because they fought for what that flag represents. That is what today is about.”

Reach reporter Jake Dye at jacob.dye@peninsulaclarion.com.

American Legion Post 20 members lead a salute during a Memorial Day ceremony at the Kenai Cemetery in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, May 27, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

American Legion Post 20 members lead a salute during a Memorial Day ceremony at the Kenai Cemetery in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, May 27, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

The American Legion Post 20 Color Guard proceeds during a Memorial Day ceremony at the Kenai Cemetery in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, May 27, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

The American Legion Post 20 Color Guard proceeds during a Memorial Day ceremony at the Kenai Cemetery in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, May 27, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

American Legion Post 20 Cmdr. Ron Homan speaks during a Memorial Day ceremony at the Kenai Cemetery in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, May 27, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

American Legion Post 20 Cmdr. Ron Homan speaks during a Memorial Day ceremony at the Kenai Cemetery in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, May 27, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Members of the American Legion Post 20 stand for a photo after a Memorial Day ceremony at the Kenai Cemetery in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, May 27, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Members of the American Legion Post 20 stand for a photo after a Memorial Day ceremony at the Kenai Cemetery in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, May 27, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

American Legion Post 20 Past Cmdr. David Segura speaks during a Memorial Day ceremony at Leif Hanson Memorial Park in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, May 27, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

American Legion Post 20 Past Cmdr. David Segura speaks during a Memorial Day ceremony at Leif Hanson Memorial Park in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, May 27, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

City of Kenai Mayor Brian Gabriel speaks during a Memorial Day ceremony at Leif Hanson Memorial Park in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, May 27, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

City of Kenai Mayor Brian Gabriel speaks during a Memorial Day ceremony at Leif Hanson Memorial Park in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, May 27, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Sen. Jesse Bjorkman, R-Nikiski, speaks during a Memorial Day ceremony at Leif Hanson Memorial Park in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, May 27, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Sen. Jesse Bjorkman, R-Nikiski, speaks during a Memorial Day ceremony at Leif Hanson Memorial Park in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, May 27, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Peter Micciche speaks during a Memorial Day ceremony at Leif Hanson Memorial Park in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, May 27, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Peter Micciche speaks during a Memorial Day ceremony at Leif Hanson Memorial Park in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, May 27, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Roughly 100 attendees gather for a Memorial Day ceremony at Leif Hanson Memorial Park in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, May 27, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Roughly 100 attendees gather for a Memorial Day ceremony at Leif Hanson Memorial Park in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, May 27, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Wreaths are placed honoring fallen soldiers during a Memorial Day ceremony at Leif Hanson Memorial Park in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, May 27, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Wreaths are placed honoring fallen soldiers during a Memorial Day ceremony at Leif Hanson Memorial Park in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, May 27, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Poppies are affixed to wreaths during a Memorial Day ceremony at Leif Hanson Memorial Park in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, May 27, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Poppies are affixed to wreaths during a Memorial Day ceremony at Leif Hanson Memorial Park in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, May 27, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Poppies are affixed to wreaths during a Memorial Day ceremony at Leif Hanson Memorial Park in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, May 27, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Poppies are affixed to wreaths during a Memorial Day ceremony at Leif Hanson Memorial Park in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, May 27, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Poppies are affixed to wreaths during a Memorial Day ceremony at Leif Hanson Memorial Park in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, May 27, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Poppies are affixed to wreaths during a Memorial Day ceremony at Leif Hanson Memorial Park in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, May 27, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Poppies are affixed to wreaths during a Memorial Day ceremony at Leif Hanson Memorial Park in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, May 27, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Poppies are affixed to wreaths during a Memorial Day ceremony at Leif Hanson Memorial Park in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, May 27, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Poppies are affixed to wreaths during a Memorial Day ceremony at Leif Hanson Memorial Park in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, May 27, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Poppies are affixed to wreaths during a Memorial Day ceremony at Leif Hanson Memorial Park in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, May 27, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

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