photo by Simon Ratcliffe
U.S. Army Captain Ronald Myers & Canadian Army Major Dan Davies
laying ceremonial wreaths during the Memorial Day Canadian
Sikanni Chief River Bridge Ceremony
photo by Simon Ratcliffe
Canadian Army Cadet Honor Guard
displaying Canadian and U.S. Flags
(Sikanni River, British Columbia, CANADA) – A historic Memorial Day ceremony, honoring African American Army engineers who built the Alaska ALCAN Highway during World War II, took place at the Sikanni Chief River Bridge in British Columbia. The bridge was completed on October 28, 1942, and was the crowning achievement of the 4,000 black soldiers of the 93rd, 95th, 97th and 388th engineering companies.
"Working in segregated units, stripped of heavy equipment by white commanders, using only axes and chains, the building of the bridge was a remarkable achievement," states Rev. Ronald V. Myers, Sr., M.D., Founder & Chairman of the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation (NJOF).
"Their courage and sacrifice lead to the end of segregation in the U.S. military when Colonel Heath Twichell ordered his white officers to eat with his black enlisted solders."
U.S. Army Captain Ronald Myers, Jr., returning from his third tour of duty in Iraq, spoke passionately about the accomplishments of both Canadian and U.S. soldiers in the building of the ALCAN Highway, considered one of the greatest engineering achievements of World War II.
"The construction of the Alaska ALCAN Highway was a bridge that brought together U.S. and Canadian logistic operations, in order to prevent the Japanese from invading Alaska, Canada and the rest of the United States." states Captain Myers. "These soldiers paved the way for me and other African Americans to serve openly as United States commissioned Army officers."
Many African American soldiers, upon completing the highway, were sent to fight the Japanese during the forgotten battle of the Aleutian Islands.
"The battle for the Aleutian Islands was the second bloodiest battle during World War II," states Bishop Dave Thomas, Chairman of the NJOF National Juneteenth Armed Services Commission, who served at Fort Wainwright, in Fairbanks, Alaska and Fort Richardson, in Anchorage, AK. "It is truly a tragedy that it has taken this long for African American army engineers to be honored for ending segregation in the U.S. military. The blood of these soldiers has been crying out from the grave, and finally, someone has listened."
A Juneteenth Alaska Alcan Highway Monument Fund has been established to raise funds to build a special monument at the Sikanni Chief River Bridge, to honor the black soldiers of the 93rd, 95th, 97th and 388th engineering companies. Similar monuments are being planned for Delta Junction, Fairbanks and Anchorage, AK.
For more information contact:
Bishop Dave Thomas at 907-575-8506, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or
web site: www.JuneteenthAlaskaALCAN.com,
Dr. Ron Myers at 662-247-3364, e-mail: JuneteenthDOC@yahoo.com or
web site: www.NationalJuneteenth.com.