Around 100 military veterans from around the state and country are traveling to Haines this week for the Alaska American Legion State Convention.
Legion leaders, including the national commander, plan to attend the three-day gathering.
Lynn Canal Post #12 Commander John Newton said local members have been preparing for the convention since Haines was chosen as the 2017 location last year.
“I think everything is set up and ready to go,” Newton said Tuesday. “At this point I’m just ready for it to start.”
The activity starts Thursday morning with an opening ceremony that includes a welcome address from Mayor Jan Hill.
On Thursday at 1 p.m., the public is invited to a totem unveiling at the Haines Veterans Village. Master Carver Wayne Price was commissioned to create totems and a sign honoring veterans.
Organizers are also planning tours of the new heritage center in Klukwan and a ride on the Takshanuk Mountain Trail.
Newton says the Haines Legion Post has about 120 members. But, he says, there are more than 300 veterans in the Chilkat Valley.
“All fraternal organizations are on a downhill swing,” Newton said. “It’s just hard to keep young people interested. It’s just the different age groups. But the Legion is kind of unique because you have to be a veteran to belong, therefore we all have something in common.”
Haines is also home to branches of two Legion affiliate organizations: the Sons of the American Legion, and the Legion Auxiliary. The national leaders of those two groups are also expected at the Haines gathering.
The convention wraps up Saturday with a banquet where newly-elected officers will take their seats.