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Juneau – With the unanimous passage of House Bill 235, the Alaska House of Representatives showed its appreciation in honoring first responders who are injured or killed while exhibiting great courage and valor in service of their fellow Alaskans.
The North Star Medal is reserved for the firefighters, police officers, corrections officers, first responders, peace officers, and search and rescue volunteers who show extraordinary bravery every day in keeping Alaskans safe.
The legislation was carried in partnership with and homage to former Representative Bob Lynn, chair emeritus of the House State Affairs Committee, who envisioned the award as “a small thanksgiving” for the valor and sacrifice shown by first responders. Until 2016, Lynn was the oldest member of the Alaska Legislature, at the same time Rep. Kreiss-Tomkins, the current chair of the House State Affairs Committee, served as the Alaska Legislature’s youngest member.
“It is impossible to express enough gratitude to our first responders, especially those who make the ultimate sacrifice,” said Rep. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins (D-Sitka). “The creation of Alaska’s North Star Medal — a joint effort from the current and emeritus chairs of the House State Affairs Committee, legislation earning unanimous bipartisan support — is a small step to that important end. I would especially like to thank and honor former Representative Bob Lynn, himself a former peace officer.”
Recipients of the North Star Medal will be nominated from first responder agencies and organizations and reviewed by the Commissioner of Public Safety, who will make recommendations to the Governor. At a ceremony held no more than once a year, the Governor will present a recipient of the North Star Medal with a ribbon, a medal, and a citation. If the honoree is no longer living or cannot accept the award, the next of kin may accept it on the honoree’s behalf.
“This is a medal that’s long past due. We must honor the people who sacrifice so much for our safety,” said former Rep. Bob Lynn on the passage of the bill. “If I were down there, I’d vote for it!”
Named for the pole star which serves as a constant guide in the night sky, the North Star Medal is a symbol of gratitude from the people of Alaska to those who act as guiding lights for Alaskans: the first responders of the Last Frontier.