Nome celebrates Memorial Day
Veterans, their families and grateful citizens celebrated Memorial Day in Nome with a parade down Front Street and then to the cemetery where they heard speeches about the meaning of the observance. Jackie Reader sang the National Anthem and Mayor Richard Beneville read the Governor’s proclamation.
“As veterans of the world wars the most sacred obligation is remembering the nation defenders who have paid the ultimate sacrifice on this Memorial Day. Many of us know intimately what it is like to lose friends on faraway battlefields,” said Reverend Aaron Iworrigan of Gambell before delivering the benediction.
Hanging over the crowd, suspended from the ladder of a Nome Fire Department truck, was a large American flag. Former fire chief Matt Johnson stepped up to tell the history of the flag. A young man who left Nome at the age of 18 and served 30 years in the U.S. Air Force gave it to him. “This flag actually flew over the forward operating base in Afghanistan during time of war,” he said.
Mayor Beneville then told of a recent visit to Arlington National Cemetery to visit the graves of his parents. His father had been a military dentist in the Air Force. Jake Kenick wrote in honor of “GI Joe” Joseph Eningowuk, who served in Vietnam and passed away this year. As Kenick was unable to attend Peggy Darling read the piece for him. “We will always remember his commitment to his fellow veterans and his silent honoring of his military family through his prideful and groomed appearance,” wrote Kenick.
Three members of the Piscoya family spoke about their father and grandfather, Sgt. First Class Roy Piscoya, who passed away this past December. He had a stellar career in the Alaska National Guard as an aircraft mechanic. And Bettyann Hoogendorn honored her father Bill Hoogendorn, who passed away in January at the age of 97. He was a veteran who did his service in Nome.
Charles “Chick” Trainor began his speech by thanking Cussy Kauer and her family for what they’ve done in maintaining the Nome cemetery. He then turned to the Pledge of Allegiance and how it had been first removed and then reinstated in the Nome Public Schools. “It was people coming to their senses and putting their priorities correctly,” he said of the return of the pledge. He then spoke on the status of a few of our cherished traditions and said it was fitting on Memorial Day to discuss them because the day was to honor those who’d given all to preserve them. He told of the IRS’s harassment of the Tea Party in 2013 and alleged FBI and Department of Justice interference in the political process before the 2016 election.
“In the public realm, emboldened left wing groups have seen fit to attack conservative speakers and gatherings in order to force their view point by violent means,” he said. “This is not indicative of free speech, tolerance, or liberty and justice for all. The present situation indicates a pervasive attempt by some to eliminate opposing views.” He told of young people wearing MAGA (Make America Great Again) hats, being attacked by what Trainor characterized as left wing thugs. “I thought this is not right, especially when I am in line with the policy that America should be made great again. The Washington swamp must indeed be drained.”
The crowd then walked down to the Snake River where Bering Air’s Huey helicopter, a veteran of the Vietnam War, dropped a wreath honoring those lost at sea.
Dalton Buffas played taps.
Memorial Day, first called Decoration Day, began in 1866 when women in Boalsburg, Pennsylvania decorated the graves of fallen soldiers from the Battle of Gettysburg. The following year women in Vicksburg, Mississippi decorated the graves of fallen soldiers, both Union and Confederate. Also that year, 216 Civil War veterans marched in Carbondale, Illinois to the local cemetery where Major General John A. Logan delivered an address. This is recognized as the first community wide Memorial Day observance.
In 2000 Congress established a National Moment of Remembrance. Americans are asked to pause for one minute at 3 p.m. on Memorial Day in an act of national unity.
This time was chose because 3 p.m. is the time when most Americans are enjoying their freedoms on the national holiday.