Nome observes Memorial Day
The people of Nome observed Memorial Day on Monday with a parade down Front Street and out to the cemetery where they heard speeches about the meaning of Memorial Day.
The event is organized by VFW Bering Sea Post 9569.
“On Memorial Day we remember the people who have fallen but it’s also our responsibility to care for their families and to be there for them as well,” said Peggy Darling of the VFW.
Last year, the late Mayor Richard Beneville read the governor’s proclamation to the crowd and delivered a speech of his own. His absence this year was felt. Richard Beneville died on May 11. “We did not do a governor’s proclamation, nobody wanted anybody stepping into Richard’s shoes,” said Darling. “He’d been a huge supporter of the VFW. We did not find anybody to do that proclamation this year. We will pick it up next year and we will talk about Richard next year.”
Chick Trainor spoke of the new enemy facing the nation, the COVID-19 virus, and what it means to Americans as people. “The best thing we can do to pay tribute to those people who gave their lives in the wars is to keep in mind that we have to speak our minds and stand up for the right to speak our minds. But we still have to work as a team. Those people who lost their lives were defending this country against enemies foreign and domestic. We are now being invaded by a new enemy, which has split our population in their approach to this thing. And now we must above all pull together as a team to defeat it.”
Dalton Buffas played taps. Last year at the observance his mouthpiece broke as he played but he continued to the end. At Belmont Point he played again with the broken mouthpiece. “After that some of us from the VFW were standing in a circle and we said ‘Let’s buy that kid a trumpet,’” said Peggy Darling. The VFW raised money and bought the young man a $600 trumpet with case and everything. “And that’s what he played this year was his new trumpet,” said Darling.
The excellent sound system, new this year, was purchased by the Nome Volunteer Fire Department. NVFD also brought their ladder truck from which they suspended a large flag. Darling thanked Paul Kudla, caretaker at the Nome cemetery, for making the cemetery look nice for the event.
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. Army veteran Kerribeth Bahr threw the ceremonial wreath from the chopper.
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 chosen because “3 p.m. is the time when most Americans are enjoying their freedoms on the national holiday.”