Nicholas Reader played Taps.

Nome celebrates Memorial Day

By Diana Haecker
Under sunny skies and a light breeze, Nome’s veterans and several National Guard members in uniform lead a somber parade down Front Street and to Belmont Point Cemetery to commemorate Memorial Day in honor of the fallen.
Nomeites lined Front Street with flags in hand, and joined the procession marching onto Bering St.– via detour due to construction – and on to Seppala Drive and to the cemetery.
At the cemetery, VFW Auxiliary President Peggy Darling welcomed the crowd on behalf of the VFW James C. Kelliher Memorial Post #9569. “This is always a difficult day for the public, it’s the one day a year they are forced to face the enormity what every day of the year feels like for those who went to war and came home without their buddy. Every day is Memorial Day for veterans,” she said. She then offered condolences to the Gold Star families and to the veterans who served with the fallen.
The standard bearers, National Guardsmen and the crowd formed a half circle around the podium. Prior to inviting the children in the attending crowd to the podium for the pledge of allegiance, she said, “A part of our fallen warriors live on forever in the form of our flag. It is the embodiment of their ultimate sacrifice.”
A group of children then assembled at the podium, faced the flag and led the crowd in the pledge of allegiance.
Seventh Day Adventist Pastor Chad Angasan and Covenant Church Pastor Michael Zabel said prayers for those who made the ultimate sacrifice, who were wounded in war and asked for healing of body and soul.  “Fill our hearts with faith, hope and love,” prayed Angasan.
Zabel prayed to bring peace and comfort to those whose loved ones didn’t come home from deployment.
Nome Mayor John Handeland read the Governor’s Memorial Day proclamation.
Jackie Reader sang the National Anthem and Nicholas Reader played Taps.
 “For countless families across the nation Memorial Day is a stark and often painful reminder of those who were never afforded the opportunity to be honored as veterans for their service to our country,” Peggy Darling said in her speech. “Whether they volunteered at a time of war, served during peace time or never expected to wear our nation’s uniform until their draft card arrived, they represent the best America has to offer. We feel their loss roaming the sacred hills of Arlington National Cemetery and in other final resting places around the world. Too many mothers, fathers, siblings and children feel the immense weight of seeing an empty chair yearround.”
She continued to speak of the difficulty of sending a loved one off to deployment and reminded the crowd that America now has been at war for 20 years, having sent nearly 2.7 million Americans to serve in Iraq and Afghanistan. “Those who returned are now our community members, neighbors and friends. If you take the time to learn about any veteran where you live, you’ll be floored by the stories of service and sacrifice, known only to those who witnessed it firsthand,” she said. “There are unbelievably brave accounts of heroes who can no longer speak for themselves. It’s up to us to not only tell their stories but to honor their service and memory by ensuring their families and survivors are cared for.”
Then a poem by Willie Herman, Angela Bodine’s grandfather, was read that honor those fallen soldiers buried in unmarked graves.
Jackie Reader sang the National Anthem and Nicholas Reader played Taps.
The procession then marched to the beach at Belmont Point, where the fallen at sea were honored with a wreath that was released from the hovering Huey helicopter, a helicopter used in Vietnam and now owned by Bering Air. Doug Doyle, who served two tours with the Navy in Vietnam in 1968/1969, released the wreath from the helicopter. Staff Sgt. Brad Gater rode shotgun. Peggy Darling then said that a special coin was riding that helicopter as well. “They are carrying with them a coin, gifted to Commander Jeff Darling USMC by a Vietnam veteran’s widow up the recent death of her husband Sgt. Edward Lyne. Ed, hope you enjoyed the ride today, in the faithful workhorse of Vietnam. Who knows, it may not be the first time you flew in this particular bird, hopefully it brings your soul freedom and peace, God speed, our friend.”
The helicopter approached from the south and hovered over the Snake River, as Doug Doyle tossed the wreath into the waters.



The Nome Nugget

PO Box 610
Nome, Alaska 99762

Phone: (907) 443-5235
Fax: (907) 443-5112

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