Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire 
A Coast Guard color guard presents the colors during a Memorial Day ceremony held by the Veterans of Foreign Wars at Evergreen Cemetery on Monday.

Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire A Coast Guard color guard presents the colors during a Memorial Day ceremony held by the Veterans of Foreign Wars at Evergreen Cemetery on Monday.

Veteran groups hold Memorial Day ceremonies

Veterans and residents honor fallen service members

Juneau residents came together at Evergreen Cemetery with the Veterans of Foreign Wars Taku Post 5559 on Monday morning.

“On the last Monday in May, we pay tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of the country,” said outgoing post commander Howard Colbert in his address to the assembled group. “That day is sacred to us.”

The Coast Guard made an appearance, with an honor guard presenting the colors for the ceremony.

“There’s not too many organizations that take it upon themselves to do this,” Colbert said. “Sacrifice is meaningless without recognition.”

While America is not currently actively at war, Colbert said, the threat is very real and will come again.

“If you look on the horizon, there’ll be another war. Young people will step up, Colbert said. “Talking about the war is difficult. If you weren’t there, you can’t quite understand.”

Dozens of Juneau residents attended a Memorial Day ceremony held by the Veterans of Foreign Wars at Evergreen Cemetery on May 30, 2022. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)

Dozens of Juneau residents attended a Memorial Day ceremony held by the Veterans of Foreign Wars at Evergreen Cemetery on May 30, 2022. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)

Colbert spoke about the value of carrying on stories of those who served, so their deeds would not go forgotten.

“The VFW feels it’s our obligation, our duty to display the message,” Colbert said. “I don’t think they teach history in schools anymore.”

Colbert also recognized the Harley Owner Group- Southeast Tongass Chapter, a motorcycle club that attended the ceremony and laid a wreath.

Across town

Another Memorial Day ceremony was also held Monday at Alaska Memorial Park in the Mendenhall Valley, where on a cloudless day dozens of Juneauites turned out for a wreath-laying ceremony.

From left to right, William Clutton, Ed Grant, and Bill Morris, lay wreaths at a Memorial Day ceremony at the Alaska Memorial Park in the Mendenhall Valley on Monday, May 30, 2022. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)

From left to right, William Clutton, Ed Grant, and Bill Morris, lay wreaths at a Memorial Day ceremony at the Alaska Memorial Park in the Mendenhall Valley on Monday, May 30, 2022. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)

The ceremony, put on by the American Legion Post 25, featured prayers from Lutheran Faith Church Rev. Aaron Spratt, who told attendees to remember the debt owed to soldiers who died in service of their country.

U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Darwin Jensen, commander of USCG Sector Juneau, gave a speech at the ceremony where he read two famous works about the human cost of war. The first was the poem In Flander’s Field, written by a Canadian doctor following the Second Battle of Ypres in 1915, where it’s estimated that more than 100,000 soldiers died in a month of fighting.

The second was President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, given in 1863 following the battle of the same name where more than 50,000 men died in a three-day battle.

“Let us do two things,” Jensen said. “The first is remember the fallen and the second is jealously defend the freedom that they gave us.”

Attendees at a Memorial Day ceremony at Alaska Memorial Park hold their hands over their hearts while the national anthem is sung by a Thunder Mountain High School student on Monday, May 30, 2022. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)

Attendees at a Memorial Day ceremony at Alaska Memorial Park hold their hands over their hearts while the national anthem is sung by a Thunder Mountain High School student on Monday, May 30, 2022. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)

• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at 757-621-1197 or mlockett@juneauempire.com.

• Contact reporter Peter Segall at psegall@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @SegallJnuEmpire.

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