Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The last stop

I've driven past here many times but I never have stopped before. I always said that I needed to check this out. Ft. Richardson National Cemetery is located on the backside of Fort Richardson next to Camp Carroll. Access is available for anyone to visit but you must sign in at the Ft. Richardson main gate.

It hadn't been a very busy place until the Iraq War started. Since it opened as a temporary cemetery during WWII, there are over 4,500 people interned through the end of 2006.

Initially, any deceased soldier who died in Alaska during WWII, regardless of nationality could be interred there. Two sections were confined for Japanese soldiers killed in the Aleutians, along with Russians and Canadians. In December 1946, the temporary cemetery at Fort Richardson was made a permanent site.

The remains of Allied soldiers were buried within a fenced area referred to as the “Allied Plot.” Japanese soldiers who died in battles for the Aleutian Islands were buried outside the fence in an area designated as the “Enemy Plot.” In July 1953, the 235 Japanese war dead buried at Fort Richardson were disinterred for proper cremation with appropriate Shinto and Buddhist ceremonies, under the supervision of the Japanese Embassy. In May 1981, a group of Japanese citizens in Anchorage had a new marker made to remember the soldiers who, in death, remain far from home.

There is also a memorial section for those whose remains were lost at sea or are not recoverable.

It was a very tranquil place the day I visited. It was -5°f and maybe that had a little to do with it. But there were recently placed flowers and other recent signs of respect. To me it seems like the most appropriate place to be buried after making the final sacrafice. On a lot of the headstones there are insignias of many different religous faiths. So I guess this is holy ground, no matter what faith you believe in.

3 comments:

Meggie said...

Nice post, Dave. I've always found visiting the graves of my father and husband to be quite peaceful and soothing. I speak to each of them as if they were merely sleeping beneath the dirt. Perhaps you shouldn't tell that to anyone. Anyway, I think of cemeteries to be holy ground, for sure. So sad that there are over 4500 young people buried at Fort Richardson.

robin andrea said...

Very touching tribute to fallen soldiers, dave. So good of you to visit them on a cold wintry day.

I checked some of your previous posts and wanted to say how much I like that photograph of the icy fog. Wow.

Dave said...

Meggie - I speak to my dad when I'm back east visiting his grave. I don't have deceased family here in Alaska. The cemetary is open to veterans of all ages.

Robin - I'll be back there again. That ice fog was something.