Military Appreciation festivities set for this weekend in Valdez
Annual event to honor veterans coincides with Memorial Day weekend
While many people across the country will be having picnics and enjoying a good time this coming Memorial Day Weekend, people in Valdez will be taking a more hands-on approach by celebrating one of the town's signature events - Military Appreciation Weekend.
This weekend will be no exception.
Each year, the town's mayor selects one or more Valdez veterans to honor in a formal ceremony to thank them for their service.
This year's ceremony will take place at the John Kelsey Plaza, located on the old city dock.
This year's honorees will be thanked at 12:30 p.m., followed by a community fish fry and recreational opportunities for young and old alike, provided by the Alaska Army National Guard.
Behind the scenes, a number of active duty personnel from Alaska will be treated to halibut charters as a way to say thank you to these men and women in uniform.
The annual event began as a simple gesture according to the City of Valdez.
"...Ken Larson, started donating free Vet fishing trips in 2005 after returning from a 2004 – 2005 stint with USACE in Iraq as a resident engineer supporting his son’s First Cavalry Artillery Unit during Operation Iraq Freedom," the city's website says about the event. "A few more local charter operators picked up on the idea. In 2007 the City of Valdez and Crowley joined as partners to make Military Appreciation Weekend a formal event."
The event has grown by leaps and bounds since that time.
"Due to its popularity, several generous private boat owners have also begun donating their time and boats so the Valdez event can accommodate more very deserving veterans," the City of Valdez said.
While Military Appreciation honors the living, Memorial Day, which is this Monday, May 30, honors those who made the ultimate sacrifice for the U.S.A.
A ceremony honoring those who have fallen on the battlefield is traditionally held at Veteran's Memorial Park on Galena St on Memorial Day.