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Parnell to veterans: 'We remember you'

Posted: November 12, 2013 - 1:04am
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Kathleen Wayne sing the Star Spangled Banner during the Veterans Day ceremony at Centennial Hall Monday.  Michael Penn | Juneau Empire
Michael Penn | Juneau Empire
Kathleen Wayne sing the Star Spangled Banner during the Veterans Day ceremony at Centennial Hall Monday.

During one of two Veterans Day ceremonies held in Juneau Monday morning, Gov. Sean Parnell asked the 150-plus people in Centennial Hall to call out the names of veterans closest to them.

Ray, Ernest, Steve, Don and Andrew were some of the names audience members shouted out loud.

“Our fathers, our mothers, our grandfathers, our husbands, wives, sisters and brothers,” Parnell said, nodding at the crowd’s responses. “We remember you whether you’re with us today or whether you’re not. We remember you, and we honor you.”

Parnell was the keynote speaker at the event, which was sponsored by Post 25 Auke Bay American Legion. Another ceremony honoring Alaska Native veterans was held at the same time down the street at Peratrovich Hall.

The governor said this year he would like to see the word ‘honor’ used as a verb rather than a noun in recognizing Alaska’s 77,000 veterans. He asked all those in Centennial Hall who served in the military to stand up in recognition for their service.

“I really am here as governor, on behalf of a grateful state, to say thank you,” he said after those standing received a round of applause. “We’re here to remember, and we’re here to honor.”

Paul Berg, a 67-year-old Juneau educator and a former U.S. Naval Intelligence targeting officer during the Vietnam War, sat in one of the back rows with a USS Enterprise (CVN-65) ball cap resting in his lap.

For him, Veterans Day marks a day to remember friends lost.

“I’m just so proud of some of the people I served with,” he said, remarking on the bravery of one pilot he knew in particular who died in combat. “It’s just a time to remember those who didn’t make it. That’s what I think about.”

For others, such as 42-year-old Dylan Seaman — who served in the Army despite what his surname might suggest — it’s a chance to meet fellow veterans in Juneau.

“It’s nice seeing the uniforms occasionally,” he said smiling.

Robert Percival, a 39-year-old Army Alaska National Guard veteran who deployed in 2006 to Kuwait and Iraq and again in 2009 to Iraq with the 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team out of Oregon, echoed the sentiment. He said Facebook makes it easy to keep in touch with old friends, but he relies on social events such as this to meet new ones.

“We go to functions when we can,” he said.

The U.S. Coast Guard Color Guard presented colors and Chaplain Kirk Thorsteinson said a prayer to start the event. Soloist Kathleen Wayne, accompanied by J. Allan McKinnon on piano, sang “The Star Spangled Banner” and “God Bless America.” Among those who gave a speech was Tim Armstrong on behalf of the Veterans Affairs Secretary. Two people were recognized for their volunteer efforts in maintaining the American Legion’s building in Auke Bay — Sean Goertzen and Dr. Richard Welling.

One of the people honored for their service was Harvey Marvin, an 80-year-old Korean War veteran originally from Hoonah.

“I think as Native people, I always remember that Alaska Native people were in service,” he said. “So wherever there’s war activity, the Alaska Native people were always there.”

Marvin served in the Marine Corps from 1950 to 1954. He said he was the only Alaska Native in his unit, but he saw “quite a few” in other units.

The second vice-commander of the American Legion Post 25, John Cooper, said the organization hosts the ceremony each year to remind Juneau residents of the sacrifices members of the military, and their families, have made.

“We all were in uniform at one time or another, and we think it’s important that those who weren’t remember that a whole bunch of us wore that uniform and a whole bunch of us died for various important reasons,” he said. “This is one way of reminding them.”

Coast Guard veteran Dan McCrummen said he appreciated Juneau residents showing up to lend support, and that he hopes even more come next year.

“I wish we could fill all three ballrooms,” he said. “I wish that there was people outside wanting to come in.”

• Contact reporter Emily Russo Miller at 523-2263 or at emily.miller@juneauempire.com.

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