Alaska vs. Texas bragging rights review

Since time immemorial—well, since 1867 anyway—Alaskans have boasted that their home is bigger than Texas. It was a feather our neighbors in the Lower 48 did not like having plucked from their Stetsons. Texans did live under six flags while Alaskans flew but four. That, of course, presumes that our indigenous forebears did not raise national banners. Neither the Aztecs nor the Alaska Natives were asked permission for the invading foreigners to cross their borders, but that’s not part of this discussion.

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Honor, Educate & Inspire: Alaska Veterans Museum

Even with the highest veteran population (per capita) in the country, Alaska was the last state in the union to have a museum dedicated to honoring veterans and Alaska's contributions to military history. It was only through ten years of blood, sweat, and many tears of passionate volunteers that the Alaska Veterans Museum opened its doors on April 17th, 2011. Still operating as a 100% volunteer organization, their mission is simple; honor Alaska’s veterans' by recording and sharing their stories; educate visitors about Alaska’s military history through exhibits and displays; and inspire our community to support our Active Duty, Guard and Reserve, and our veterans.

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The Battle of Attu

From June 3 to 7, 1942, Japanese forces attacked Alaska’s Aleutian Islands, bombing Dutch Harbor on the island of Unalaska and invading the islands of Attu and Kiska. Attu’s radio operator, Charles Foster Jones, died during the invasion and his wife Etta, the island’s schoolteacher, taken prisoner. The Aleut (Unangan) residents of Attu were taken to Japan for the duration of the war. Of the 40 captives, 16 (40%) died from disease and starvation.

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Preserving Alaska’s military history a good thing

Alaska Gov. Bill Walker’s proposal to create a military museum is potentially a good idea. Several museums now in place attest to the widespread interest in preserving the history of the military’s vital part in developing and protecting this American spot at the “Top of the World.” How to go about creating a major museum, however, is yet to be determined. Whether and in what manner the existing museums will be included is of concern to these all-volunteer organizations.

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Knik Little League opens season this weekend

Fifty-four years ago, four teams played Knik Little League’s first games ever. On Saturday, May 6, local fans will hear the call of “Play Ball!” Players, officials, coaches and fans from dozens of teams will gather at Eagle River Lions Park at 6:30 p.m. on Friday for opening ceremonies.

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Alaska is perfect spot for tall-tale tellers

Recently, this space had a column on Geritt “Heinie” Snider, an old-timer and former legislator who homesteaded at Lake Lucille. The Hollander who became an Alaska State Senator had the opportunity to actually know some of the sourdoughs this writer can only read about. Coming to Alaska in 1910, he caught the tail-end of the Klondike heyday. He crossed the border and did some mining before migrating to the Matanuska Valley.

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What’s there NOT to love about Alaska

When he joined the Army in December of 1947, Alaska was the last place in the world this writer wanted to be sent. In fact, each of the 12 times he went through processing, he responded to the question of his preference of overseas assignments with, “Anyplace but Alaska.” You see, he was born and raised in Alabama. Just the thought of below-freezing weather was enough to make him shiver.

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Wasilla’s ‘Heinie’ Snider: famed teller of tall tales

A park on the shores of Lake Lucille in Wasilla is named for Gerrit “Heinie” Snider, a well-known pioneer from the Matanuska Valley. His nickname was given due to the Dutchman’s accent. A miner, railroad section foreman, author, iceman, community benefactor, mink rancher, newspaper columnist and politician, Snider published his “100 Stories of Alaska” for the 1967 Purchase Centennial. The foreword to the book was written by U.S. Sen. E. L. “Bob Bartlett who wrote, “I know of no teller of tales, tall or otherwise, better equipped to relate Centennial stories about Alaska and Alaskans.”

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First legislature passed 84 bills in 59-day session

Passage by Congress of the Second Organic Act on Aug. 24, 1912, changed Alaska from a District to a Territory, giving it the ability to elect a legislature. Voters did just that in November, sending 24 residents to Juneau, which had been designated as the capital. The session started March 3. Legislators’ remuneration: $15 per day with 15 cents reimbursement for travel mileage.

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Alaska gardeners benefit from long days

Gardening is an endeavor many Alaskans have enjoyed since the days it became a United States possession. Our long daylight hours in summer offer us an advantage over friends and relatives in the smaller states. We can boast not only of oversized vegetables but flavor that is unmatched.

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