Political frustration prompted veteran to join statehood fight
"When I came to Alaska I just didn't quite realize the extent which Alaska was a colony of the United States."
Victor Fischer recalls being politically frustrated when he moved to Alaska in 1950 after serving in the U.S. Army in both the European and Pacific theaters during World War II.

"When I came to Alaska I just didn't quite realize the extent which Alaska was a colony of the United States," he said. "I had by then voted for president and U.S. Senate in Wisconsin and I was appalled that as a veteran who had been in the Army to war to protect democracy, here I am in Alaska and all of a sudden I've lost my full citizenship rights and I couldn't vote anymore."

Fischer, along with other veterans in the territory, formed a group called Operation Statehood to help forge the fight for Alaska's entrance to the union. Many people were frustrated by decades of political maneuvering taking place in the nation's capital that had kept Alaska from becoming a state, he said.

"Alaska was destined to be a state and it was just sort of politics and federal bureaucratic control that prevented moving ahead," Fischer said.

Multiple bills were held up in Congress over the years and people in Alaska grew increasingly frustrated by the process, he said.

"It was horrendously frustrating and people were incensed," Fischer said. "By the mid '50s it was time for the Constitutional Convention, Congress wasn't acting, so sort of anyone who was politically involved and the citizens movement felt we had to do something more."

Fischer decided to resign his position as the Anchorage planning director and filed to run for one of the 55 delegate positions of the Alaska Constitutional Convention in 1955.

"I was one of 12 elected from South Central district and there were about 50 some candidates and it was kind of edifying to win the election and from then on it was just hard work, preparing, studying to come to Fairbanks for the convention and slogging along," he said.

Fischer provided his expertise as a city planner to the local government committee at the convention. He also spent many hours poring over the evolving document as a member of the style and drafting committee.

Brian Wallace / Juneau Empire

Pioneer: Former state Sen. Victor Fischer, who was one of the delegates at the Alaska Constitutional Convention, speaks recently during an appearance at the Capitol.