On Monday, the 2023 Crab Festival will be coming to a close. Vendors and exhibitors will be taking down their stands. But a very significant event will be taking place at the City Cemetery at 11 a.m.
Monday is Memorial Day, a time of reflection and remembrance.
Members of the VFW and American Legion and their auxiliaries encourage people to recall the sacrifices that were made to ensure the citizenry the freedoms that are taken for granted and the valiant men and women who sacrificed their plans, comforts and, in some cases, their lives in order to maintain those freedoms.
Those who made those sacrifices will be honored at a special ceremony at the cemetery, where wreaths will be placed on the graves of veterans and statements honoring their memory will be read.
Following the service, attendees are invited to the American Legion where another program will take place, followed by lunch.
Sandy Peotter, a member of the VFW Auxiliary, noted that the memorial service is more than just another Crab Festival event. It’s a sacred day of remembrance.
Peotter provided me with an article, written by Oklahoma Congresswoman Stephanie Bice, who gave a history of Memorial Day — originally known as Decoration Day. It was initiated after the Civil War as a springtime tribute to fallen soldiers.
The ceremony was marked by prayer and the decorating of fallen soldiers’ graves with flowers. Memorial Day, which occurs on the last Monday of May, was officially established as a federal holiday in 1971. It has evolved to commemorate fallen.
Remembering American military personnel from the Civil War through the Wars on Terrorism in Afghanistan and Iraq, “it is…important..to take a moment and reflect on their sacrifices,” wrote Bice.
Memorial Day is a solemn reminder of the million-plus Americans who tragically lost their lives while serving our country. Without the sacrifice of our men and women in uniform, America would not stand. Our ideals of freedom and democracy are only possible due to their service.
Our ideals of freedom and democracy are only possible due to their service, wrote Bice.
Memorial Day has a special significance for Peotter, whose husband, the late Jim Peotter, and father, Arthur Schultz, served in the Navy.
“My husband was in the Korean War,” said Peotter. “He was on an aircraft carrier [for] four years.”
Her father, who grew up in Wisconsin, had been stationed in Texas. “He wanted to be in the Air Force.” Peotter said she saw a picture of her father on a Navy ship with the caption, ‘I’m not seasick, I’m just looking at the environment.’ I never saw my dad until I was four.”
She noted that many World War II veterans didn’t want to talk about their experiences.
Peotter said that the VFW Auxiliary has 23 members who meet once a month on Tuesday nights.
Besides assisting in events such as the Memorial Day service, the Auxiliary provides gifts to veterans at the Elder House at Christmas. Last year the Auxiliary presented much-need coats and boots to veterans.
Ray Stobinski has been post commander of the Kodiak VFW for 10 years.
He came to Kodiak in the 1980s. He initially enlisted in the Army, and after his tour of duty went into the Coast Guard. He was stationed in Hawaii and South Korea. His uncle, a veteran of the Korean War, gave his life for that cause.
Keeping his uncle’s ultimate sacrifice in mind, Stobinski said that Memorial Day is a time to honor those who did what they could to defend our country. Some, like his uncle, didn’t come back. “That’s a big deal to me,” said Stobinski. “It’s important to honor their courage and remember them for that. We can’t forget them. Everybody needs to step back and reflect on the freedoms they have.”
“They didn’t just show up on Amazon. Everyone enjoys freedoms, and we need to respect how we got them and preserve them. We don’t even want to imagine what life would be like if those freedoms should go away,” said Stobinski.
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