Jim Asper holds his grandson, Jim Reeder, 1, at Evergreen Cemetery during a Memorial Day ceremony the morning of Monday, May 27. (Ben Hohenstatt | Juneau Empire)

Jim Asper holds his grandson, Jim Reeder, 1, at Evergreen Cemetery during a Memorial Day ceremony the morning of Monday, May 27. (Ben Hohenstatt | Juneau Empire)

‘The ultimate sacrifice’: Locals pay their respects at Evergreen Cemetery

Memorial Day ceremony remembers men and women who served

Jim Asper was misty eyed and kneeling when he introduced 1-year-old Jim Reeder to the boy’s great-grandfather, Linn William Asper.

The two Jims were among those in attendance Monday morning at a Memorial Day ceremony hosted by Veterans of Foreign Wars Taku Post 5559 at Evergreen Cemetery. It was the first time Reeder paid a Memorial Day visit to his late, great-grandfather, who was an officer in the Navy during WWII.

“There’s great-grandfather,” Jim Asper said and pointed toward a marker honoring his father who passed in ‘91.

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He and his wife, Bridget Smith, came carrying a bouquet of flowers to decorate the grave and found a wreath had already been placed by an unknown party.

Jim Asper, who served in the U.S. Coast Guard, said he was moved by the gesture and said visiting his father is always stirring.

“It means memories of my parents,” Asper said. “They were very good people to me.”

Remembering late servicemen and women is the precise purpose of the annual ceremony and the national holiday, said VFW Quartermaster Dan McCrummen.

“It’s just an opportunity to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice,” McCrummen said.

Attendees bow their heads during prayer at a Memorial Day Ceremony held at Evergreen Cemetery, Monday, May 27. (Ben Hohenstatt | Juneau Empire)

Attendees bow their heads during prayer at a Memorial Day Ceremony held at Evergreen Cemetery, Monday, May 27. (Ben Hohenstatt | Juneau Empire)

The sunny ceremony drew a crowd numbering in the hundreds, which Coast Guard Capt. Melissa Rivera, Chief of Staff for the 17th District, said was good to see. Rivera said it’s never certain whether a gorgeous day will result in increased or decreased attendance.

She delivered brief remarks during the roughly 30-minute ceremony, which also featured a benediction, presentation of two wreaths and a performance of “Taps” by Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé sophomore Sam Marnon.

Coast Guard Capt. Melissa Rivera, Chief of Staff for the 17th District, speaks during a Memorial Day Ceremony held at Evergreen Cemetery, Monday, May 27. (Ben Hohenstatt | Juneau Empire)

Coast Guard Capt. Melissa Rivera, Chief of Staff for the 17th District, speaks during a Memorial Day Ceremony held at Evergreen Cemetery, Monday, May 27. (Ben Hohenstatt | Juneau Empire)

“This day is a day of both gratitude and grief — remembering our heroes and reflecting on their tragic loss,” Rivera said. “There is nothing more noble than a man or woman who willingly steps toward danger and risks everything for their fellow countrymen.”

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During her speech, Rivera acknowledged that for many Memorial Day is a day off work and a chance to enjoy a cook out with family or another leisurely pursuit.

Rivera said that too fits with the spirit of the holiday.

“These are exactly the things that we have fought for,” Rivera said.


• Contact reporter Ben Hohenstatt at (907)523-2243 or bhohenstatt@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt.


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