Legislature(2001 - 2002)

05/04/2002 01:35 PM STA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
                                                                                                                                
           HB 285-SECOND VERSE OF ALASKA'S STATE SONG                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN  THERRIAULT said  it was not  his intent  to move  HB 285                                                              
that day but he would like to hear public testimony.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MR. BILL LAWRENCE, Aide to Representative  Carl Morgan, sponsor of                                                              
HB 285,  said it was  the appropriate  time to officially  add the                                                              
second verse of the Alaska State  Song to state law because it was                                                              
      th                                                                                                                        
the 75   anniversary of the Alaska  State Flag.  He  said it would                                                              
be  a long  overdue  honor  to the  late  Carol Beery  Davis,  who                                                              
authored  the second  verse and  gifted  it to  the University  of                                                              
Alaska  in  1987.   The  verse  commemorated  Bennie  Benson,  who                                                              
designed the Alaska State Flag, and  recognized the natural beauty                                                              
and splendor  of Alaska.  He said  the second verse had  been sung                                                              
throughout Alaska for many years.  He said:                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     Officially  putting  the  second   verse  in  the  state                                                                   
     statute will not  solve all of our problems,  but it's a                                                                   
     small step  toward creating peace and harmony  among all                                                                   
     the people in the state.  It's  basically the right time                                                                   
     to do the right thing.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN  THERRIAULT asked  if there  were any  questions for  Mr.                                                              
Lawrence.  There were none.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS.  CONSTANCE  DAVIS, daughter  of  Carol  Beery Davis  read  the                                                              
following statement:                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     I would like  to give you a little summary  of my family                                                                   
     history  on   this  eventful  occasion.     My  paternal                                                                   
     grandfather arrived in Juneau  early in 1891 for a short                                                                   
     stay,   working  for   the  Nowell   Mining  Co.  as   a                                                                   
     bookkeeper.    With  paints,   brushes  and  canvas,  my                                                                   
     grandmother  landed at  the  Juneau docks  a few  months                                                                   
     later.   She  planned  to paint  Alaskan  scenery for  a                                                                   
     month or two.   The following year they were  married in                                                                   
     the Log Cabin church.  Both of them came from England.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     My mother came to Juneau in  1920 to play for the silent                                                                   
     movies at  the Palace Theater, a three-month,  temporary                                                                   
     job that  lasted for seven years.   By that  time, Marie                                                                   
     Drake was  a good friend, the  contest to choose  a flag                                                                   
     for Alaska was  underway, and my father was  a member of                                                                   
     the Final Awards  Committee to choose the  flag.  Mother                                                                   
     took notes of the events at  that time.  Later she wrote                                                                   
     that once  the design  was chosen,  Marie felt that  the                                                                   
     school   children  of   Alaska   would  understand   the                                                                   
     historical  event better  if they had  words to  recite,                                                                   
     something  like  those in  her  head.   The  Territorial                                                                   
     Commissioner of Education gave  his approval, and so the                                                                   
     first step towards a song was born.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     When mother was approached to  add a second verse to the                                                                   
     state  song, she believed  that it  was important  to do                                                                   
     so,  and that  her  old  friend, Marie,  would  approve.                                                                   
     Using  the themes  of unity, history,  progress and  the                                                                   
     state's  natural  beauty,  she  carefully  composed  the                                                                   
     verse with  her enduring  love for Alaska.   It  was her                                                                   
     last gift.  She was 95 years old.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN  THERRIAULT asked  if there  were any  questions for  Ms.                                                              
Davis.  There were none.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MS.  CONSTANCE MONROE  said  she  was an  adult  educator who  was                                                              
retired  from the  Department  of  Education.   When  she came  to                                                              
Alaska  in 1971,  she  felt  the state  song  was limited  in  its                                                              
recognition  of   only  gold  miners   and  not   other  Alaskans,                                                              
especially the first Alaskans.  She  said she discovered that this                                                              
was  not oversight,  it  was a  historical  situation because  the                                                              
first verse written  by Marie Drake was initially  a poem to honor                                                              
the flag and was not expected to be the state song.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
She  said  she  was  a  good  friend   with  Representative  Alvin                                                              
Osterback's  wife Marie because  of their  work on the  Governor's                                                              
alcohol  and   drug  commission.     She   said  she  spoke   with                                                              
Representative  and  Mrs.  Osterback and  Senator  Frank  Ferguson                                                              
about the possibility of having a  second verse for the state song                                                              
and opening it up for a statewide  contest.  She said they thought                                                              
about it  and discussed it with  their colleagues and came  to the                                                              
conclusion  that  it probably  wouldn't  be advantageous  for  the                                                              
State to hold a contest.  However,  if there was a gift of someone                                                              
providing a  second verse, they could  look at it and  see whether                                                              
or not it was appropriate.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
She lost her  job in 1985 because  of the economic downturn.   She                                                              
said she called  Carol Beery Davis and said she  would probably be                                                              
moving and  was very sad  that they never  got a second  verse for                                                              
the Alaska State Song.  The next  morning she received a call from                                                              
Carol Beery  Davis asking her  to come to  look at a draft  of the                                                              
second verse  that was  going to be  a gift to  the State.   Carol                                                              
Beery  Davis  asked  if  she  would   take  it  to  Representative                                                              
Osterback  and Senator  Ferguson and  see if they  thought  it was                                                              
appropriate.  She said they loved it.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MS. MONROE  said the second  verse had  been a struggle  since the                                                              
1970s.  It passed the House of Representatives  in 1986 but failed                                                              
in the  Senate.   She said  she hoped  the committee's  leadership                                                              
would provide support  for the second verse.  She  said it honored                                                              
everyone in  Alaska including the  first Alaskans,  minorities and                                                              
people who came from everywhere to live in the state.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN  THERRIAULT  asked  why  they  felt  a  contest  was  not                                                              
appropriate at the time.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MS. MONROE said  they were concerned that there would  be too much                                                              
disagreement over what  the second verse was supposed  to be.  She                                                              
said  they  couldn't  come  up  with   guidelines  that  were  not                                                              
insulting and it would have been  too difficult for a committee to                                                              
choose  something.    She  said they  didn't  have  the  financial                                                              
backing.   She noted that  when the gift  was received,  they went                                                              
through the proper procedures with  the University in Fairbanks to                                                              
have the verse held in trust.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
She said  the second verse  had been sung  across the state.   She                                                              
said because she  was working with community education  and school                                                              
districts she  was able to request  that the second verse  be sung                                                              
at graduations.   She said when  Senator Ferguson was  honored for                                                              
his work with  vocational education, the second verse  was sung at                                                              
the ceremony.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
She said  Alvin and Marie Osterback,  who have always  been strong                                                              
supporters,  are still  waiting to  see the second  verse come  to                                                              
fruition.   She said she thought  the whole native caucus  felt it                                                              
was time as well.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
She said  they should have  held a contest,  but they  didn't have                                                              
the leadership  at the  time to do  so.   They couldn't  use money                                                              
from the Department of Education.   She noted that there was not a                                                              
contest held for  the first verse and they wanted  some continuity                                                              
in how the verse was chosen.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  PHILLIPS  said he  went  to  the  museum and  saw  Bennie                                                              
Benson's submission  for the Alaska  State Flag contest.   He said                                                              
Bennie had submitted  a written piece along with  the design and a                                                              
lot of the phrases in the song came  from that.  He said the first                                                              
verse was  a carryover and the  submission of the first  verse was                                                              
part of the submission of the flag.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN THERRIAULT  said he thought  Senator Phillips  was trying                                                              
to say that  although the first verse  was not part of  a contest,                                                              
the  wording  was  taken  from the  concepts  in  Bennie  Benson's                                                              
written  comments  on his  flag  submission.   Therefore,  it  had                                                              
stemmed from the  contest.  He said he asked a  question about the                                                              
Alaska State Song in his questionnaire.   In response, a number of                                                              
people said  they had some ideas.   He said it was  also suggested                                                              
to him that a well-known music instructor  in Fairbanks might have                                                              
an excellent idea.  He said the way  the first verse links in with                                                              
the contest for  the design of the flag, people  are interested in                                                              
having  an opportunity  to suggest  wording if  there is  to be  a                                                              
second verse.   He  said that if  people had  known the  State was                                                              
looking for  a gift of a second  verse, there probably  would have                                                              
been a lot of suggestions.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MS. MONROE  said that was  probably true.   She asked if  he would                                                              
have liked to judge that.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN THERRIAULT  said he understood that would  be a difficult                                                              
task.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MS. MONROE  said she strongly  supported Carol Beery  Davis' verse                                                              
as the  second verse of  the Alaska State  Song.  She said  it was                                                              
beautiful  that a  pioneer of  Alaska wrote  it as  a gift to  the                                                              
first Alaskans,  minorities and  all the  residents of  the state.                                                              
She said  she thought  the words were  appropriate and  was hoping                                                              
that it would be passed out of committee.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN THERRIAULT  asked if there were any  additional questions                                                              
for Ms. Monroe.  There were none.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MS. HARRIET  ROBERTS said she was  retired from the  Department of                                                              
Health and Social Services.  She  said she had lived in Alaska for                                                              
20 years.   She said when  she came to  Alaska she had  the Alaska                                                              
State  Song card  in her  purse.   She  said the  ferry trip  took                                                              
several days  and her husband  couldn't sleep.   He asked  for the                                                              
card because he  wanted to read it.  She said  he couldn't believe                                                              
they were actually in Alaska.  He  said it was so beautiful it was                                                              
like  heaven.   She  said,  "When you  sing  this song,  all  this                                                              
flashes in  your mind."   She said when  the second verse  came to                                                              
the Legislature, Camp #2 of the Alaska  Native Brotherhood and the                                                              
Alaska Native  Sisterhood passed  a resolution  in support  of the                                                              
second verse.   She said she  couldn't speak for the  other camps,                                                              
but she  was sure  they supported  it as well.   She said  Dorothy                                                              
Wallace had also come forward in support of the verse.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN  THERRIAULT  asked if  she  was representing  the  Alaska                                                              
Native Brotherhood and the Alaska Native Sisterhood Camp #2.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. ROBERTS said  their grand president Delores Cadiente  was on a                                                              
trip  and their  local  president  Alberta  Aspen wasn't  able  to                                                              
attend the meeting so she was testifying for them.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN  THERRIAULT asked  if there  were any  questions for  Ms.                                                              
Roberts.  There were none.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR.  J.  ALLAN  MACKINNON  said he  was  a  lifelong  Alaskan  and                                                              
resident of Juneau.   He wanted to speak in support  of the second                                                              
verse and felt it should have been adopted years ago.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
He said  he was  one of the  founders and  director of  the Juneau                                                              
Oratorio Choir and  was supportive of the Alaska  Youth Choir.  He                                                              
said  the musical  director of  the Alaska  Youth Choir,  Missouri                                                              
Smythe, could  not attend the hearing.   He said the  Alaska Youth                                                              
Choir incorporated the second verse  into their programming at all                                                              
their presentations.  He traveled  with the group to Brooklyn, New                                                              
York  and they  performed the  second verse  there.   He said  the                                                              
Juneau Oratorio  Choir was probably  one of the first  choruses to                                                              
sing both verses during one governor's inauguration ceremony.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
He said  Carol Beery Davis  was very much  a friend to  the native                                                              
community.    She was  authorized  to  translate the  native  oral                                                              
tradition  of songs  and other pieces  onto paper,  many of  which                                                              
were preserved in museums and the State Library.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
He said he  spent 10 or 12  years learning piano from  Carol Beery                                                              
Davis.   He remembered  her talking about  Marie Drake  and Elinor                                                              
Dusenbury.   He said the three  were contemporaries and  very well                                                              
known and  well thought  of in their  writings and poetry.   Marie                                                              
Drake took  certain elements  of Bennie  Benson's wording  and put                                                              
them into a poem  that was of the proper length  and meter.  Carol                                                              
Beery Davis  was a  contemporary  of Marie Drake's  and also  used                                                              
some of  Bennie Benson's wording,  creating a verse of  the proper                                                              
length and meter.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
He said there  were certain times when contests  were appropriate,                                                              
but this was not one of them.  He  said naming a state ferry, town                                                              
sites  or other  things  might  be  appropriate contests  for  the                                                              
youth.   He said his  teenaged son wrote  poetry but he  would not                                                              
want to have to consider his writing in a contest setting.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
He urged  the committee to  adopt the second  verse as it  was and                                                              
make it  an official part  of the statutes.   He said it  would be                                                              
taking the writings of two contemporary  individuals who were very                                                              
well thought of  out of historical context if they  were to reopen                                                              
the issue of who would write the second verse.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
2:00 p.m.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN  THERRIAULT asked  if there  were any  questions for  Mr.                                                              
MacKinnon.  There  were none.  He asked if there  was anybody else                                                              
who wished to testify on HB 285.   There was nobody.  He announced                                                              
that the  bill would  probably come  back up  for final  action on                                                              
Tuesday, May 7, 2002.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
HB 285 was held in committee.                                                                                                   

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