Along Nome’s main thoroughfare, Front Street, there stands a bronze statue of a man wearing a traditional parka and holding a rifle. It’s a silent reminder of Alaska’s unique military history, a history that stretches back for decades before statehood.
The Alaska Territorial Guard (ATG), which the statue commemorates, was a division of the US military that defended the Alaska coast during World War II. Its membership was comprised of local, predominantly Alaska Native residents; it was, for this reason, nicknamed the “Eskimo Scouts.” Thousands served in the ATG, although it was largely forgotten for decades by the military bureaucracy. It wasn’t until 2000 and later that ATG veterans were officially recognized as such by the US government and allowed access to benefits shared by other veterans.
This history, combined with Alaska’s high percentage of veteran residents, make Memorial Day a poignant moment for Western Alaska.
Every Memorial Day, KNOM remembers those who served, especially those who paid the ultimate sacrifice. The station live-broadcasts the Nome parade and remembrance services.
Images, at top and below: scenes of Memorial Day 2018 in Nome; photos: Karen Trop, KNOM.