Letter to the Editor: Service honored

My father, Lt. Emmett Ray Aillaud, U.S. Navy, a decorated veteran, was lost at sea while in service to his country on Aug. 10, 1959. Since there were no remains, there was no grave. For various reasons, my mother did not pursue having a memorial stone placed in his honor in Arlington National Cemetery, though he was eligible for such recognition.
About 10 years ago, after several immediate family members with a living memory of my father had passed away, my mother came to the realization that, in time, my father’s sacrifice would be lost to the ages. She then decided to seek a marker. Unfortunately, she was unable to fulfill her goal. Last year, when her health had taken a sudden decline, and a need for action pressing ever more upon her, I assumed the task.
Having seen all that she had done, I quickly realized that we needed a powerful ally who had compassion for an average Alaskan. I turned to U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski. On May 5, 2008, I wrote to the honorable senator requesting her assistance. Within weeks, she had various government agencies springing into action.
There was more to be done, and time to be spent between steps of the process, not the least of which was a six-month wait for a stone to be carved. However, on April 27, I received a call from Arlington Superintendent John Metzler. He informed me that my father’s marker had been installed. I cannot in words describe how grateful my family is that my father is commemorated on that sacred ground. My mother perhaps summed it up best: “Finally, after all these years, closure.”
I want to take this opportunity to publicly thank Sen. Lisa Murkowski for her efforts. My family is eternally grateful for her assistance. She truly is a champion of the people of Alaska
Whit Aillaud
Delta Junction