Did Walker really cut the “Patriot” out of Patriot Day?

Gov. Bill Walker attends the deployment ceremony for the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division on Sept. 8, 2017.

No.

The long answer

Claims began circulating this morning that Gov. Bill Walker committed perhaps the most unpatriotic action of his time in office by renaming the day that honors the thousands of people killed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks from “Patriot Day” to the milquetoast “September 11 Commemoration Day.”

The claim was publicized by conservative news blog MustReadAlaska and was shared by the official campaign page of Republican candidate for lieutenant governor Lynn Gattis. Both called into question the Republican-turned-independent governor’s patriotism and respect for the lives lost on that day.

“Governor Walker’s actions show a callous disrespect for the police, firefighters, and other first responders that gave their lives on that tragic day – not to mention the brave men and women who have given their lives since in the Middle East protecting our nation’s freedoms,” wrote Gattis.

Just another leftist move to whitewash history, they claimed.

But both the Republican Party MustReadAlaska and Gattis would benefit from a closer reading of history. That’s because September 11 hasn’t been officially recognized as Patriot’s Day in Alaska, including by at least two Republican governors.

Patriot Day was officially established in late 2001 by President George W. Bush, and later the day was recognized as Patriot Day and National Day of Service and Remembrance by President Barack Obama. In Alaska, it’s always been “September 11 Commemoration Day.”

It was “September 11 Commemoration Day” every year under former Republican Gov. Sean Parnell.

Parnell’s 2010 proclamation.

Even under former Gov. Sarah Palin in 2008 it was “September 11 Commemoration Day.”

Sarah Palin’s 2008 proclamation.

Walker has, however, recognized Patriot Day in the text of media releases put out in 2015 and 2016, as did Parnell in 2014 (the most recent press release that’s easily found in my email).

Bottom line

The basic claim bandied by conservative groups (who’d also very much like the governor’s office back in 2018) is that Walker broke precedent this year and changed the name in a grave affront to the country. That’s simply not true.

Oh, and here’s a full list of the proclamations in case you want to check for yourself:

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