More than 300 people gathered at Juneau's National Guard Armory today to pay tribute to the country's veterans with prayer, bagpipe music and speeches.
"Those young men and women who preserved our freedom, we preserve them in our hearts," said keynote speaker and Coast Guard Rear Adm. James Underwood. Many audience members wore crisp National Guard or Coast Guard uniforms. Older men wore pinned American Legion caps.
"The uniforms (military personnel) wear and the flags they carry are symbols of freedom and hope in the world," Underwood said.
The event was sponsored by Juneau posts of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion. About 300 active duty military personnel are stationed in Juneau and several thousand veterans live here.
Among traditional Veterans Day themes of patriotism and remembrance, speaker Underwood also contemplated the possibility of an impending war with Iraq.
"This coming Friday we should know an answer, that is the deadline for Saddam Hussein," Underwood said. "We need to pray that they let the weapons inspectors in. There is no one in the military that wants to go to war. ... There is also no one in the military that wants our freedoms to be challenged or our people left unprotected."
Following the ceremony at the Armory, a smaller, more informal ceremony was held at a new Alaska Native Veterans Memorial at the Sealaska Building. There veterans spoke about their experiences and placed a wreath on the memorial as "Taps" played.
Editor's Note: A more detailed version of this article will be in Tuesday's Empire.
Julia O'Malley can be reached at email@example.com.