Photo 5: Soldier Replacing Light Bulbs on the Christmas Star.
Photo 6: The Star on the Mountain, 2007.
In 1958, the soldiers constructed a 15-foot star on the Site Summit gatehouse. It was a gift to Anchorage from the soldiers of Site Summit. However, the star was too small to be seen from Anchorage. The soldiers built a 117-foot star on the mountainside in 1960 that could be seen.
The star is occasionally rebuilt after being wiped out by avalanches. In 1989, it was rebuilt and enlarged to be 300 feet wide. The U.S. Army maintains the star. A work crew performs maintenance on the star’s 350 bulbs once a year.
The Army turns on the star every year for Anchorage’s City of Lights celebration on Thanksgiving weekend. It remains lit until March, when the last "musher" crosses the finish line in the Iditarod. Since 2001, the star is illuminated on September 11 in memory of victims of the 9/11 terror attacks.
1) Imagine you are a soldier standing on the mountain at the Site Summit gatehouse. Based on the information in Photos 5 and 6, what do you see below you? Why do you think the soldiers took time to build and maintain the stars?
2) Describe the landscape in Photos 5 and 6. What challenges do you think weather conditions and terrain created for the men who built and maintained the stars?
3) Imagine you are a citizen of Anchorage and looking up at the mountain. What do you think you might see at Site Summit during the day? What do you think you might see at night? What do you think the people of Anchorage thought of the star in the 1960s?
4) What parts of the star’s meaning has changed since 1958? What do you think the star means to the people of Anchorage in the 21st century?