Sitka National Cemetery
Beautiful and secluded, the nearly 150 year old Sitka National Cemetery is nestled in the mountains of Sitka, Alaska, a town only accessible by air, marine highway, or weekly ferry from Seattle, Washington. Once nearly abandoned, the cemetery is now the resting place of "The World's Fastest Human" and is attached to an old romantic legend. Just outside the heart of town, the cemetery is one of many historic spots to visit in Sitka.
Backstory and Context
One particular headstone in the cemetery is connected to an old Sitka legend involving a romantic entanglement. According to the story, two close friends, a captain and a lieutenant, were both courting a beautiful Russian girl that lived in the town. One day the friends left on a hunting trip together but only the captain returned, carrying the lifeless body of his friend. The captain claimed there had been a horrible accident and the lieutenant had shot himself by mistake. Soon after, the captain was also found dead, lying atop a note that explained what really happened: he had challenged his dear friend to a duel over who would win the Russian girl. But she refused him and after already murdering his friend, the captain no longer wanted to live. The slain lieutenant is said to be one of Sitka National Cemetery's first burials.
Now sprawled over 4.3 acres, the cemetery houses a few other interesting and notable burials. John Green Brady, governor of the Territory of Alaska from 1897 to 1906, is buried here. Staff Sergeant Archie Van Winkle, a Medal of Honor recipient, has a memorial headstone in the historical section of the cemetery. Charles William Paddock, an Olympic Gold Medalist and U.S. Marine Corps veteran, also known as "The World's Fastest Human," was also laid to rest here after a military plane crash in 1943. There are two cannons serving as a memorial for all those interred.