Legislature declares September 11 as Patriot Day - Must Read Alaska
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Legislature declares September 11 as Patriot Day

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UNITED MESSAGE TO GOV. WALKER: DON’T MESS WITH IT

The Alaska Legislature today unanimously passed a bill establishing September 11 of each year as Patriot Day.

On Sept. 11, 2001, the United States suffered the worst terrorist attack in its history. Nearly 3,000 people lost their lives and more than 6,000 were injured.

“Patriot Day honors the men and women who came to the rescue on September 11, 2001,” said Sen. Kevin Meyer (R-Anchorage), the bill’s sponsor.

“This bill is about recognizing members of law enforcement, firefighters, emergency medical responders, doctors, nurses, first responders, and ordinary citizens–everyone who demonstrated courage and sacrifice on that day.” – Sen. Kevin Meyer

SB 152 requests the governor to order the observation of Patriot Day and to display the U.S. flag at half-staff in honor of those who lost their lives in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack.

Sen. Kevin Meyer, SB 152 bill sponsor

“We should never forget our fellow Americans who’ve made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our nation since that tragic day in 2001,” said Sen. Meyer. “Alaska-based military personnel have fought terrorists abroad–as recently as the September deployment of the 4-25th Brigade from Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson–on a mission that truly began on Sept. 11, 2001.”

In a time when our Legislature is highly divided on fiscal issues, there could have been no stronger statement than 60-0. Sponsors signed on from both sides of the political spectrum, making it clear to the governor that any dilution of the intent of the day is unacceptable.

 

Ben Eielson High School Air Force Junior ROTC cadets raise the American flag for reveille as a tribute to Patriot Day at Amber Hall Sept. 11, 2012, Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. Patriot Day is a day to reflect on the lives lost and to honor the memory of the sacrifices made on 9/11. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Zachary Perras)

WHY NOW, IN 2018, WAS THIS NEEDED?

Last year, Walker issued a Sept. 11 Commemoration Day statement  that spelled out a new meaning for the day. It would be one where “we as Americans reflect on the importance to our nation of freedom, tolerance, patriotism, diversity, and respect for others, and are grateful for the rights and freedoms that we hold as Americans.”

It was a dilution of the national intent of Patriot Day, turning it into a day where pure patriotism and heroism were mixed in with reflection on diversity and tolerance, freedom, patriotism. Walker had mixed messages together to make Patriot Day mush.

The criticism was stinging and swift. Walker fielded dozens of angry calls and mounted a defense at the rebuke that came his way, saying he was doing what everyone had done before him.

But he hadn’t — he had changed the intent of the day and Alaskans saw that as an insult to the memory of those who rushed into the flames, and those who went to war to secure our nation from further attacks on our homeland.

Today, no stronger statement could have been made than this: While Alaskans appreciate tolerance, diversity, and respect, patriotism is a thing apart. It’s about sacrifice for one’s fellow countrymen. It’s about showing courage and love of America, as a parent loves a child with unflinching willingness to put one’s life on the line.

SB 152 is now on its way to the governor’s desk to be signed into law, which will help him remember in September, when he signs the proclamation, that the day is a national day of mourning, and a profound day for all Alaskans to honor and remember those who sacrificed.

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(A bill to make Sept. 11 a national day of mourning was introduced in the U.S. House on October 25, 2001, by Rep. Vito Fossella (R-NY) with 22 co-sponsors, among them 11 Democrats and 11 Republicans. The bill requested that the President designate September 11 of each year as Patriot Day. Joint Resolution 71 passed the House by a vote of 407–0, with 25 members not voting. The bill passed the Senate unanimously on November 30. President Bush signed the resolution into law on December 18, 2001. On September 4, 2002. Sept. 11, 2002, as the first Patriot Day.)

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • Do not be fooled. The Governor is a graduate of Lewis and Clark College in Portland, which is one of the most politically “correct” colleges in the US. His proclamation likely reflects his views. I would not be surprised to see him veto SB 152 as being insensitive and offensive to the various groups he fawningly serves.

  • Governor Walker isn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer, is he?
    He keeps having to be reminded of what things represent and how things are remembered.

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