Community members gather at Leif Hansen Memorial Park in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, May 30, 2022, to commemorate Memorial Day. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)

Community members gather at Leif Hansen Memorial Park in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, May 30, 2022, to commemorate Memorial Day. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)

‘We appreciate and honor their sacrifice’

Kenai honors veterans’ service on Memorial Day

Community members gathered in Kenai on Monday for a Memorial Day ceremony commemorating and honoring lives lost in military service.

Veterans, their families and loved ones placed remembrance poppy flowers on the monument at Leif Hansen Memorial Park and listened while American Legion veterans and local elected officials spoke about the true meaning of the holiday weekend.

David Segura, the American Legion Post 20 Commander in Kenai, said he wanted to emphasize the importance of Memorial Day.

“The observance of this day is so important — we must never forget the blood that has been paid to us,” he said. “Yes, Memorial Day does mark the beginning of summer — a summer that could potentially be a turning point in our history. But do not forget Memorial Day is so much more than the barbecues and the picnics; it is today we remember the sacrifices that have been paid or that have paved the way for freedoms we hold dear and the future we will have together.”

Memorial Day started as Decoration Day in 1868, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, in which people would adorn graves of fallen soldiers with flowers. The commemorative holiday was eventually set for May 30, likely because flowers would be in bloom all over the country, according to the VA.

Kenai Vice Mayor Jim Glendening spoke about the memorial monument at the park in Kenai. He shared a conversation he had recently had with his niece about the symbolism featured in the monument. Some of the imagery includes a bayonet, a pair of soldier’s boots, a helmet on a rifle, and a battlefield cross.

“These symbols serve as a rallying point where surviving members of a unit can mourn and remember their fallen comrades,” Glendening said. “This Memorial Day, reach out to the veterans that you know and give them one simple message: We remember our country’s fallen brothers and sisters, and we appreciate and honor their sacrifice.”

In his speech, Alaska Sen. Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, encouraged the community to think about the sacrifices of those killed in war.

“They died so we can be free, but think about the little things they missed,” he said. “Releasing the seat of your daughter’s bicycle as she takes off on her own for the first time … Watching their boy on his first base hit.”

Micciche emphasized that the sacrifices made by military personnel directly enables the American way of life.

“Today, Memorial Day is about remembering that price and being grateful that such men and women were there, were willing, so that we don’t have to know the fear like we’re seeing happening right now in Ukraine,” he said. “There will be other Hitlers, other Putins, but our mighty military and the men and women who serve will continue to combat and defeat evil, (and) some will perish doing so. Today is about thanking and remembering them.”

Representatives from U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski and U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan’s offices also spoke during Monday’s ceremony.

Reach reporter Camille Botello at camille.botello@peninsulaclarion.com.

People participate in the Memorial Day ceremony at Leif Hansen Memorial Park in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, May 30, 2022. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)

People participate in the Memorial Day ceremony at Leif Hansen Memorial Park in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, May 30, 2022. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)

People participate in the Memorial Day ceremony at Leif Hansen Memorial Park in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, May 30, 2022. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)

People participate in the Memorial Day ceremony at Leif Hansen Memorial Park in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, May 30, 2022. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)

People participate in the Memorial Day ceremony at Leif Hansen Memorial Park in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, May 30, 2022. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)

People participate in the Memorial Day ceremony at Leif Hansen Memorial Park in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, May 30, 2022. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)

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