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50th anniversary tribute moving

Posted: Friday, July 10, 2009

Two interesting non-events took place in Juneau on July 4. One was the non-public display of the Declaration of Independence on cruise ships. Apparently it was supposed to be shown but for security reasons (that lovely catch-all term) it was not taken off the ship and the public could not come on board except by invitation.

At 9 a.m., a truly moving tribute to the 50th anniversary of statehood was held in the original setting of the first celebration at the Juneau-Douglas City Museum, the original location of where the 49-star flag was first raised. The flag was raised in 1959 by Harold Wheaton; Romer Derr rang the Liberty Bell 49 times, a role he reprised last weekend. Rev. Walter Soboleff gave the same blessing July 4 that he gave 50 years earlier.

Master of Ceremonies was Sen. Dennis Egan, son of Bill Egan, the first governor of the new state of Alaska. Wonderful dances were performed by Tlingits and Filipinos, and the whole affair was totally charming. It had the feel of a small and very new state trying its best to be as sophisticated and grown up as the older states. I must admit to a lump in my throat.

This was a tribute to the state of Alaska, not Juneau. Our governor, Sarah Palin, was in town but did not attend. I will not presume to guess as to why she did not donate even one minute of her time to wish the state a happy birthday, but I find it incredibly rude. For someone constantly prating about her love for Alaska, and who resigned so she can devote herself even more to the state, why didn't she take part? Would any other governor of any other state refuse to participate in their state's birthday? Her actions make us all wonder just how much she values Alaska.

Dee Longenbaugh

Juneau



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