Memorial Day ceremony held at Veterans Memorial Park

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) On Memorial Day, The Military Order of the Purple Heart Chapter 675 held a ceremony recognizing fallen soldiers at Veterans Memorial Park.

Benno Cleveland played "Taps" during the ceremony. (Alex Bengel/KTVF)

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the larger ceremony which traditionally takes place at the park was cancelled. When that happened, the order decided to put on its own ceremony.

Commander David Keel expressed the order’s need to hold a ceremony despite its limitations. “This is not optional for us. This is something that we have to do for our brothers and sisters, and mostly for the families that are left behind,” he said.

Keel said, “Your freedoms are not free. They are paid for by men and women who are laid to rest all across this country.”

Keel explained the need to recognize the meaning of Memorial Day. “It’s a good thing that people have barbecues and beer on this day. That’s the American way of life. They should celebrate. But that celebration is paid for by men and women who have died,” he said.

Benno Cleveland served from 1968 to 1970, including in the Vietnam War. Cleveland is both a member of the order and a member of the Alaska Native Veterans Association (ANVA). He explained that ANVA chose to take part as well, bringing a wreath to contribute to the ceremony. “There’s a brotherhood. We’re all veterans, and a lot of us, we fought with some of the people that gave their lives. And we have a strong bond,” he said.

Cleveland played “Taps” as wreaths were laid in remembrance.

Memorial Day is a federal holiday which commemorates fallen American soldiers. It is observed on the last Monday of May.

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