By Nicolette Dent, Community Assistance Fellow, National Park Service, Alaska Region, Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program
On June 3 and 4, 1942, Dutch Harbor was attacked by Japanese bombers. This changed the course of the Aleutian Campaign of World War II and the lives of nearly 900 Unangax^ people who were suddenly uprooted and taken to internment camps in Southeast Alaska. Many villagers were unable to resettle in their homes after being released from these camps. These events forever changed the lives of those who experienced World War II in the Aleutians.
To honor this little-known but significant history, Unalaska will host a three-day commemoration in honor of the 75th Anniversary of the Bombing of Dutch Harbor/Unalaska and the Aleut Evacuation. The program kicks off with welcome messages from the Ounalashka Corporation, National Park Service, Qawalangin Tribe, Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association, and City of Unalaska Mayor Frank Kelty. Public events throughout the weekend include presentations about World War II and the evacuation, and a chance to meet veterans, elders, and relatives of evacuees, some of whom have traveled great distances to honor this history. The commemoration will close with a memorial ceremony to honor the armed forces who died in the bombing and those Unangax^ who died while interned. Governor Bill Walker, Senator Lisa Murkowski, and military representatives from the U.S. and Canada will join in to share their own words of peace and healing at the ceremony.
For more information about events, see the group Facebook page at: facebook.com/75DutchHarbor
The National Park Service has a website with the public schedule as well: https://www.nps.gov/aleu/planyourvisit/75th-anniversary-dutch-harbor.htm
Recent Alaska Dispatch News article and video: https://www.adn.com/alaska-news/2017/05/27/pilots-to-fly-historic-military-planes-to-dutch-harbor-for-75th-anniversary-of-bombing/