Local ceremonies honor fallen today

Posted: Monday, May 29, 2006

Memorial Day is a set aside to remember those who have died while serving in war.

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But there are a lot more fallen soldiers to thank, said Lt. Col. Pat Carothers, today's keynote speaker at the 11 a.m. Memorial Day ceremony at Evergreen Park.

"The only thing I'm going to do is bring out that there are others, not to take anything away from those who are in the military, that went down," Carothers said. "We have other people in this community who were prepared to defend God, country, the community, the family and themselves, and I want to bring recognition to those people."

Carothers served in World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam. He received three Purple Hearts in Korea and two in Vietnam. He's the past commander of the Juneau American Legion Post, and a life member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Disabled American Veterans.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars Taku Post 5559 is sponsoring today's ceremony at Evergreen. Two buglers from Juneau-Douglas High School will play "Taps" at the Evergreen ceremony. The Coast Guard District 17 Color Guard will present and retire the colors.

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National cemeteries for veterans expanding at fastest rate since Civil War, expected to double in capacity by 2009.

Memorial Day is one of the most popular days at Evergreen, where roughly 6,500 are buried, according to Juneau Parks and Recreation Maintenance Supervisor Terry Hinkley.

Staff members will be on hand 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday in the maintenance shed near Cedar Street to help anyone who needs assistance locating a grave. Parks and Rec has a map of the plots.

Veterans from the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War are buried near the flagpole.

"Some folks might not have visited their grave sites for a few years, and some may not remember what location they're in," Hinkley said. "We have folks that happen to be in town and want to visit a family member's plot. Sometimes it's a lost uncle or a grandfather or something like that."

American Legion Auke Bay Post 25 will host a ceremony at 11 a.m. Monday at Alaska Memorial Park on Riverside Drive in the Mendenhall Valley.

Approximately 250 veterans are buried at Alaska Memorial Park. The valley ceremony draws an average crowd of about 150.

Members of Post 25 and the Disabled American Veterans will lay wreaths by the flagpole in honor of fallen soldiers. A bugler will play "Taps."

Keynote speaker John E. Wilkins Jr., department director of services for the D.A.V. Department of Alaska, will read from an Ernest Hemingway poem written near the end of World War I.

"I'll tell you what, it's a hell of a life when you come back and you're wounded or you're going around in a wheelchair for the rest of your life," Wilkins said. "It's a whole different ballgame.

"We have a lot of kids coming back now that are injured and need a lot of special care," he said. "Hopefully, the VA will step forward and take care of those kids."

• Korry Keeker can be reached at korry.keeker@juneauempire.com.

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