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Flowers, wreaths, 10,000 pennies: Anchorage honors America's fallen

(KTUU)
Published: May. 29, 2017 at 4:23 PM AKDT
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On Memorial Day, no matter the miles trekked, nor the method of travel, it's the memories that are important.

Hundreds gathered at ceremonies across Anchorage Monday to honor the servicemen and women who gave their lives for America's freedom.

But whether in downtown Anchorage, or somewhere else, laying flowers, wreaths, or simply pausing to remember the legacy of those who have been lost, sends a message loud and clear.

"It's much more legacy," said Brett Speck, a U.S. Coast Guard member visiting Fort Richardson cemetery with his family Monday. "We're here to show our kids what Memorial Day is, getting to why this country is as great as it is. These members are the ones who put us in that position."

One man who visited Fort Richardson arrived with 10,000 pennies in tow, each headed for a tombstone at the cemetery.

"I'm putting pennies on the headstones to signify I visited each and every service member," said Zachary Rosenka, a member of the U.S. Army, "to make sure they're not forgotten."

Legend has it the tradition he was continuing began in America during the Vietnam War.

The penny signifies the visitor stopped by the grave. A nickel shows they trained with the deceased. A dime suggests they served side by side, and a quarter means the visitor was there when the fallen passed away.

"To be forgotten is worse than death," Rosenka said. "I know when I pass, I don't want to be forgotten."

However and wherever they pay respects, it only matters that they do, even if it's one priceless penny at a time.

Video by photojournalist Mike Nederbrock.