American Legion hosts ceremony to honor vets

VFW post commander to serve as keynote speaker at this year's event

Posted: Tuesday, November 11, 2003

In recognition of Veterans Day, American Legion Auke Bay Post 25 will honor those who have fought for their country during a ceremony at 11 a.m. today at the National Guard Armory.

American Legion Post Commander Jim Ruotsala will emcee this year's event.

The American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars Taku Post 5559 in Juneau alternate responsibility for the Veterans Day memorial service each year, Ruotsala said. He served in the Navy in the Korean War for six years and 18 years in the U.S. Army and Army Reserve.

This year's service features keynote speaker VFW Post Commander Gerald Dorsher, who served as a U.S. Army combat engineer in Korea. He was also past state commander of the VFW and commanded the First Civil Support Battalion of the 49th Civil Support Brigade for the Alaska State Defense Force until 1998.

"We'll be thanking all of the service personnel over the world who protect the freedoms of today," Dorsher said.

The 17th District Coast Guard will present the colors and Juneau-Douglas High School students will sing the "Star Spangled Banner" a cappella, said American Legion Adjutant Bill Jacobi.

The high school concert choir and jazz ensemble, under the direction of Alice Tubley, will perform additional ceremonial music, Jacobi said.

The ceremony is expected to last about an hour. Afterward, free chili will be served at the VFW Post home behind the Baranof Hotel. The VFW Ladies Auxiliary will host the chili.

Dorsher said he was honored to be this year's keynote speaker, adding the job was usually reserved for higher level dignitaries including the governor.

The date and time of the event - the 11th hour, day and month - is done in recognition of Armistice Day, when World War I ended in 1918, Dorsher explained.

"Be sure you welcome our veterans home," Dorsher said. "Hope for the safe return of all of our troops."

• Tara Sidor can be reached at

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