27 August 2006


Unfortunately, my digital camera has at last given up the ghost so my pictures from today's Lend-Lease festivities are on 35mm. I'll post them when I get the film developed.

That being said, I enjoyed covering the hoopla of the dedication, with all the guests from near and far, even if the event was very poorly set up for radio coverage meaning I had to stand directly in front of a speaker, distorting my sound quality and blasting out my ears.

Earlier in the afternoon, I attended a press conference with Rumsfeld and Ivanov. It was frustrating in that there were both Russian and American national media in attendance and thus only one member of the Alaskan press corps was called upon to ask a question. Fortunately, that person was me. (Here's a tip for those kind of deals - figure out who is picking the questioners, get in his or her line of sight, and then stare at them until they look at you and motion you want to ask a question. Do this on several occasions and they'll get so sick of you, they'll call on you.) Unfortunately, my question was inartfully worded, about the 600 or so Alaska National Guardsmen from rural subsistence villages who have been called up and are in Mississippi getting ready for Iraq. So I got a boilerplate answer about honouring the service of all who serve. But it was my boilerplate!

Some reflections on the day -

-Loren Leman gets a bad rap. He's often portrayed as a cardboard cutout, lacking in charisma. He was quite funny today and must have been funnier in Russian because whenever he switched languages, which he did fairly well, the Russians cracked up.

-Ted Stevens was quite moving, I thought, at least much more so than when I saw him in Nome. He just kind of stumbled and mumbled, as he is want to do, through some thoughts on World War II that were made more meaningful by the fact that he himself is an Air Corps vet.

-Donald Rumsfeld tied World War II to the war on terrorism and then sat down. How predictable.

-Sergey Ivanov speaks quite good English, apparently, as he spoke in Russian but corrected his interpreter on more than a few occasions.

-As much as I loathe Gary Wilken for seemingly single-handedly ensuring that rural Alaska gets the shaft each and every legislative session, he is quite an eloquent speaker and even had me listening when he started talking about the history of the program, which I thought I already knew quite well.

-There was a good crowd of protesters on hand but I was dismayed by their posters. No catchy or original slogans at all. Then again, when the issues are drearily the same, I suppose the slogans can be as well.

A memorable experience for a relatively inexperienced rural Alaskan reporter.

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