Memorial Day came and went a week ago.
It was celebrated with picnics, barbeques, and furniture store sales. But for some, Memorial Day is all about honoring and remembering the servicemen and women who have given their all for the freedoms we all so very cherish.
Memorial Day this year was a very special time for Eagle River’s Kirk Alkire and friends because they climbed the recently federally-recognized Gold Star Peak, just north of Eagle River. The group also made the ½-mile trek over to Mount POW/MIA, where they signed the register.
“Our climb this year was made even more special as we had close to 50 climbers that came to reach the 4,148’ summit,” says Alkire, a retired U.S. Army veteran who spearheaded the effort to name the mountain. “Most importantly, was the presence of Gold Star families, those that have lost a loved one while in military service to our country.”
The group of Gold Stars represented on the climb was comprised of fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters from the Army, Navy and Air Force.
“Each and every one of them shared stories about their fallen loved one that made us all so very honored to be part of the climb,” Alkire notes.
Alkire adds that one group of Gold Stars, Wayne and Marcy Voss, came all the way from Texas to visit and join the climb. The two became the first Gold Star mother and father to reach the summit. Each Gold Star family that reached the summit was presented a newly minted Gold Star Peak coin.
U.S. Senator (Alaska) Dan Sullivan also made the Memorial Day climb.
“Our day on the mountain totaled nearly 10 hours, but felt as if time stood still,” Alkire says. “It was a fabulous day spent honoring and paying tribute to those that have given their all, certainly a Memorial Day that will never be forgotten.”
On the following day I climbed the peak with friend Jeff Worrell, a retired U.S. Air Force veteran who lives in Birchwood. We also hiked over to the POW/MIA flags. It was quiet and the southeast wind created a swirl of clouds to the south, near Twin Peaks. Before our descent, I made a silent prayer for those soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice.
Frank E. Baker has been an Alaska resident since 1946 and is currently a freelance writer who lives in Eagle River with his wife Rebakah, a retired elementary school teacher.