In 1984, President Ronald Reagan visited Anchorage to deliver an Independence Day speech honoring the Alaska National Guard troops who had turned back the Soviet attempt to invade Alaska in the first days of World War III.
Valiant GuardsmenIn his remarks to the crowd, Reagan said: "The valiant Guardsmen and soldiers who risked, and in some cases gave, their lives to defend this country from Soviet aggression are the newest heirs to the ideals established two hundred and eight years ago by our founding fathers".
The president also took time to pay tribute to the servicemen fighting in the Middle East and Korea and the troops who'd died during the fighting in Cuba; at the conclusion of his speech he presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Canadian Defense Forces general Romeo Dallaire in recognition of Dallaire's role as commander of the CDF contingent which had supported U.S. troops during their fight against the Soviet invasion force.
"Battlefield Alaska" post by Chris OakleyOne woman's life would be dramatically changed by Reagan's Anchorage visit; 20-year-old Wasilla resident Sarah Louise Heath, who had previously been attending the University of Idaho before the war began, was inspired by the speech to leave school and enlist in the U.S. Army Reserve, where she served for over six years before returning home to tie the knot with fiance Todd Palin. Following her discharge from the reserves in 1991, Sarah would embark on a career as an intelligence analyst at the Pentagon, in which capacity she would have the responsibility for archiving hundreds of previously classified documents recovered from Russian defense ministry files after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
This post is an installment of Chris Oakley's Battlefield Alaska thread.