by Greg Lincoln
This Memorial Day we gathered together as a community to honor the Alaska Territorial Guardsmen who protected our land from enemy invasion during World War II. The solemnity and sincerity of the ceremony touched our hearts as we stood together in unity and remembered the ATG.
There were 31 units of those guardsmen from Chaneliak on the north coast to Platinum in the south, and east to McGrath and Nunivak on the western side. They served our country from 1942 to 1947.
The units were located in Akiachak, Akiak, Bethel, Akuluak, Alakanuk, Chaneliak, Eek, Flat, Goodnews Bay, Hamilton, Hooper Bay, Kipnuk, Kwethluk, Kwigillingok, Kwiguk, Marshall, McGrath, Mountain Village, Napakiak, Nunapitchuk, Nunivak Island, Ohogamute, Paimiut, Pastolik, Pilot Station, Pitka’s Point, Platinum, Quinhagak, Russian Mission, Stebbins, and Tununak.
In all, 1,435 names are listed at the ATG Memorial Park Wall of Honor here in Bethel. If you visit, you can see all the names from the villages where they served.
This is the first time our community has chosen to hold the Memorial Day Ceremony at the Veterans Cemetery in Bethel.
We also remember those who have passed on before us on this day. It is a common tradition to clean up and maintain the resting places of those we love who have passed on. We have seen families gather together to honor their beloved by spending time at the cemetery. Sometimes there is food shared and tears, and memories.
And Memorial Day always seems to turn out to be a beautiful day, full of sunshine, spring.
To those who are grieving, spending time at your loved one’s gravesite with your friends and family may be a time for healing. We hope that you will find that healing. We ourselves are still struggling with our own loss, our very own flesh and blood. The missing, longing, yearning, and wanting part of losing someone is the part that hurts the most and that is the part that will forever be with us.
When a person loses someone precious to them, the mind can be flooded with thoughts, including troubling thoughts. Almost everyone who has experienced bereavement may have felt this. People who have Complicated Grief get caught up in these types of unsettling thoughts about how things could have been different, and these thoughts persist continually, every day, all the time.
If only we had… What if … Why didn’t we… How come we didn’t … and on and on and on.
We know your pain, we know what it is like, now we know and we are so saddened. Our eyes have been opened to grief, the sorrow, and the neverending struggle.
Another component of Complicated Grief is having difficulty in finding respite by doing other things including being with other people and balancing the pain – distracting themselves. Many folks have gone on to fulfill their dreams, to be productive, despite their losses and sadness and that gives us more hope on top of the hope that we already have.
Hope upon hope, building anew, not replacing what was lost, but strengthening the love so that memory is eternal.
A friend of ours said to us last Sunday that we are not promised tomorrow, so let us live each day as if it were our last.
At the end of each day, we thank our Lord for another day. And we thank Him for you, our friends – we could not ask for a better community to live in where we find so much caring, thoughtfulness, and help. Quyana.