Lend-lease memorial receives $500,000

Posted: Friday, August 16, 2002

The campaign to build the Alaska-Siberia Lend-Lease Memorial recently received a $500,000 boost in the form of an appropriation from the U.S. Congress.

The money will allow work to continue on the project, said Alaska-Siberia Research Center Director Alexander Dolitsky of Juneau. A design by Juneau sculptor R.T. Wallen has been selected tentatively for the memorial, which will be placed in Fairbanks to commemorate the efforts of Americans and Russians on the home front during World War II.

"That ($500,000) is our budget and goes for the construction of the memorial in Fairbanks," Dolitsky said. Congress approved the appropriation in late July, he added.

The state Department of Transportation also may provide money for site preparation, Dolitsky said. Site preparation will include stone benches and flags, flowers and landscaping.

The memorial effort was started in the early 1990s with the goal of recognizing the lend-lease cooperative effort between the United States and Russia during WW II. From 1942 to 1945, the United States supplied planes and other materials to Russia via a route that stretched from Great Falls, Mont., over Alberta, British Columbia, and the Yukon, and through several Alaska ports - Fairbanks, Galena and Nome - before continuing to Siberia.

"It was a very courageous move on the part of the U.S. government," Dolitsky said. "The lend-lease - that's what it is all about. It made a difference in the war."

A site for the Fairbanks memorial has been identified and a resolution is under way in Fairbanks to approve it, Dolitsky said. When the Fairbanks memorial is complete, the center hopes to sponsor construction of similar monuments along the lend-lease route, he added.

Money from the federal appropriation will be disbursed in October, Dolitsky said.

Genevieve Gagne-Hawes can be reached at geneviev@juneauempire.com.

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