When Alaska finally made the transition from territory of the United States to becoming the 49th state - it was cause indeed for happy celebrations in Anchorage.
“I remember being in the first grade at Denali Elementary. One day we had to fill out a form. One of the questions asked, “what state do you live in?”. Our teacher told all of us to write “Territory of Alaska”.
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The Statehood Act
The man at the desk is President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Standing and on the left of the screen is Richard Nixon.
The Alaska Statehood Act was enacted on July 7, 1958. However, for a variety of legal reasons, Alaska had to wait until January 3, 1959 to officially be welcomed as the 49th state.
Read more about the Alaska Statehood Act right now.
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The Federal Building Flag
A huge U.S. flag with a large 49th star was hoisted up on the outside wall of the Federal building on 4th Avenue to celebrate statehood.
If you look closely at the flag, you will notice the large star.
Everyone either walking or driving down the street enjoyed looking at the flag.
There were lots of celebrations in Anchorage when Alaska became a state.
Everyone lined the street for a parade, and there were other events all over town.
But the celebration everyone seems to remember was the bonfire pictured above.
“My family and I attended the statehood bonfire celebration. I was only in the first grade at Denali Elementary and didn’t really understand what was going on.
Our family lived in downtown Anchorage, so my parents, 5 brothers and 2 sisters all walked to the bonfire. I remember how excited and happy everyone was. When they set the wood pile on fire, I remember the bonfire became big and hot.
Later, when we got back home, we talked about it and I started to understand more about why everyone was celebrating and that we had become the 49th state in the U.S. It was a proud and happy day I’ll always remember.”
Did You Remember Your Brownie Camera?
Check out Anchorage resident Dick Hoffman’s memories of the Statehood celebrations.
Alaska Wins Statehood
Check out this story about the Alaska Battle for Statehood right now.
Did You Know This?
At first, the United States Congress feared that Alaska would be unable to raise enough taxes because of it’s small population, and that Alaska would become a welfare state.
Then, 6 members of the Senate Interior and Insular Affairs Committee in the U.S. Congress went to Alaska to conduct public hearings to see for themselves how Alaskans felt about the idea of becoming a state.
Alaskans decided not to let them forget that they wanted to become a state.
Alaskans sent Christmas cards with the following wording:
“Make Alaskan’s future bright. Ask your Senator for statehood and start the New Year right.”
And Alaska’s women got into the act in an impressive way.
They made bouquets out of the Alaska flower, the “Forget-Me-Not” and sent them to members of Congress.
Following all this, a lack of interest could no longer be used to prevent Alaska’s statehood.
What Are Your Memories?
It’s been a lot of years since Alaska first became a state and the 49th star was added to the U.S. flag.
When I was in the 3rd grade, our family had returned to the “lower 48” for a time and I was attending school in Texas. Our class had a project where we were studying the 48 United States.
At one point my teacher asked which state I was from and I proudly said “Alaska.”
My teacher then informed me that Alaska wasn’t a state. I became upset and said “but we lived there.” The teacher informed me that Alaska was a Territory of the U.S.
I became even more upset and thought to myself - “how could mom and dad take me out of the country like that?” Later that evening, mom and dad told me all about how Alaska was a part of the U.S. and what being a territory meant. After that, I was OK with it.
Some years later, when Alaska became the 49th state, I was very proud.
A Fun New Facebook Group
Do you enjoy reminiscing about those good old days when you were growing up?
We’ve put together a peachy keen, super-fun Facebook group that you’ll love.
It’s called Baby Boomers Remember When and it’s all about your fondest memories. And, this group isn’t just for Alaska baby boomers… it’s for baby boomers everywhere.
So, your baby boomer friends from all over can join in the fun.
Check out Baby Boomers Remember When right now.
Are you kidding me?
We were having so much fun enjoying this edition of Anchorage Memories VIP, that it’s hard to believe it’s time to say good bye until next time.
Did you learn something new about Alaska Statehood? We did.
And how is your summer going? We know how fast those beautiful warm and sunny days in Anchorage come and go during the all-to-short summer. So we hope you’re able to enjoy it while you can.
Remember to share this Anchorage Memories VIP newsletter with friends and family.
Until Next Time
Mike & Mary
Anchorage Memories VIP Newsletter