Empire Editorial: Honoring sacrifice and courage

We owe a debt of gratitude and respect to all military veterans who have served our country, but today is set aside for the few who survived a great ordeal, and those who did not.

Today, Sept. 20, is National POW/MIA Recognition Day, the third Friday in September.

According to the American Legion website, “This commemoration is set aside to honor the commitment and sacrifices made by this nation’s prisoners of war and those who are still missing in action, as well as their families.”

By resolution, the American Legion dedicates an empty chair at its meetings as “a physical symbol of the thousands of American POW/MIAs still unaccounted for from all wars and conflicts involving the United States.”

It is easy to take things for granted. Things like mobility, freedom to travel, the choice of what to eat, even your basic safety.

It’s easy, unless you have had all that taken from you endured the fear and isolation of imprisonment by a foreign government as a prisoner of war. Those who will talk about their experiences, and understandably not all do, may tell you they never take these things for granted.

One former Vietnam-era POW recently visited Juneau on a speaking tour, and we wanted to share a few of his thoughts again today.

We reported in May that Charlie Plumb has told his story nearly 5,000 times over the past 40 years. He was shot down and spent six years in a Vietnamese POW camp, learning code to communicate with other inmates. Learning to survive unspeakable conditions. Learning about himself. Learning to endure torture. Eventually, he learned how to cope with those memories and inspire others with his story.

If you were fortunate enough to have heard him speak at Centennial Hall, you might agree with him that a person needn’t be military and needn’t have experienced war to relate to his hardships.

“The techniques I learned in POW camps to overcome challenges, to turn adversity into advantage — they’re the same techniques people can use for everyday life,” Plumb told the Empire. He said adversity really does make one stronger.

Life in the camp taught him, “I can still control my attitude, I can still choose to laugh or to cry, I can choose to be positive or negative... to choose to be negative is to give the enemy control over my destiny.”

Today we not only remember the words of Charlie Plumb, we think about those who suffered in captivity at the hands of America’s enemies, and those who never made it back to our shores.


Thu, 01/19/2017 - 09:41

Letter: A pro-life presidency is something to be thankful for

​On Jan. 20, we will see the inauguration of a new president. From the pro-life perspective, this is something to be thankful for. That day represents the departure from the White House of one of the most pro-abortion presidents we have seen to date. His replacement is a man who has voiced support for a number of pro-life, pro-family initiatives that will protect the rights of the unborn and their mothers. Read more

Thu, 01/19/2017 - 09:22

My Turn: Alaska’s national parks need infrastructure support

In 2016, the National Park Service celebrated its centennial anniversary. 2017 marks the 100th anniversary of Denali National Park, one of the many crown jewels in Alaska’s collection of our national parks. These parks represent the very best and most treasured public lands in our country. As we hear about badly needed infrastructure improvements to our roads, bridges and utilities nationwide, it’s important to remember that our national parks are not immune to these challenges. Denali National Park alone faces an infrastructure repair backlog to roads and facilities of $53 million.

Read more
Thu, 01/19/2017 - 09:22

My Turn: Reflecting on why I love Alaska

Gov. Bill Walker issued a proclamation designating 2017 as a “Year of History and Heritage” in recognition of Alaska’s sesquicentennial — the 150th year since Russia ceded its possessions and interests in Alaska to the United States. Gov. Walker’s proclamation encourages all Alaskans “to study, teach, reflect upon our past, and apply its lessons to a brighter, more inclusive future.”

Read more
Thu, 01/19/2017 - 08:47

Outside Editorial: NATO and the EU: Mend them, don’t end them

The following editorial first appeared in the Chicago Tribune:

In lamenting President Barack Obama's foreign and military policies, Republicans have frequently offered a concise summary: "Our allies don't trust us, and our enemies don't fear us." They didn't imagine the day would come when the same might be said of a Republican president. But that's the prospect Donald Trump raises. Read more


  • Switchboard: 907-586-3740
  • Circulation and Delivery: 907-586-3740
  • Newsroom Fax: 907-586-9097
  • Business Fax: 907-586-9097
  • Accounts Receivable: 907-523-2230
  • View the Staff Directory
  • or Send feedback