Friends welcome and assist special guests of the Battle of Attu 75th Anniversary Commemoration
May 2018 marked the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Attu. The forgotten battle on a wildlife refuge in Alaska was the only ground battle of WWII to take place on American soil. Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge partnered with National Park Service and many other organizations to sponsor and organize three days of free public events at five venues in Anchorage. Alaska Maritime requested Friends advertise on our website for recruitment of volunteers to greet visitors, hand out programs, and escort special guests to reserved seating and deal with any special needs of the guests who included nine Battle of Attu Veterans, Attu Village survivors and descendants, and Japanese soldiers’ descendants. Three Friends members (Chuck Iliff, Tom Choate and I, Betty Siegel) volunteered and worked the full three days to help things run smoothly.
Some highlights included:
- Meeting and assisting the veterans who ranged in age from 95 to 102 years. They were humble, interesting, funny, and appreciative;
- Watching the Unangax dancers and hearing the Unifying Peace Messages by the Attu veteran, the grandson of a Japanese soldier, and a Unangan elder at the Loussac Library program;
- Attending the World Premiere of the documentary “When the Fog Clears,” by award winning Japanese film-maker Tadashi Ogawa, meeting him and talking with him about the film;
- The Closing Ceremony at the Alaska Aviation Museum. This was a very moving event, especially the presentation of Colors, the Wreath Presentation, and the beautiful renditions of the Japanese Anthem by violinist Hiroko Harada and our National and Alaska anthems by Kyle Schneider.
We three Friends Members were honored to have these and many other wonderful, once-in-a-lifetime experiences and fond memories and the opportunity to make the Attu 75th Anniversary Commemoration a success.
(Report submitted by Betty Siegel; photos by Lisa Hupp/USFWS & Betty Siegel)