Hundreds of soldiers, veterans and family members gathered Friday evening outside the Fort Stewart Museum’s Vietnam Memorial to remember America’s Prisoners of War and those Missing in Action.
According to timeanddate.com, POW/MIA Recognition Day has been observed on the third Friday in September since 1986. It first was observed in 1979.
Sponsored by the Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 789, the annual event on Fort Stewart honors those held prisoner during all U.S. wars and those still missing in action from those wars. More than 1,700 service members still are missing from the Vietnam War alone, according to www.veteranshour.com.
VVA Chapter 789 President Retired Sgt. Maj. Adna R. Chaffee served as master of ceremonies with Col. John Hort, 3rd Infantry Division deputy commanding general-rear, serving as the guest speaker.
Static displays surrounding the ceremony site — including a Vietnam War Killed in Action monument, a POW/MIA Table of Remembrance and the POW/MIA flag — reminded guests of the ceremony’s solemnity.
Before Hort’s remarks, VVA member Paul Spence read a poem titled “They answered the call,” which he wrote three years ago especially for the occasion. Staff Sgt. Michael Leonard Jr. later read a narrative explaining the Table of Remembrance, which consists of a white tablecloth, a red rose, a red ribbon, a lit candle, a slice of lemon and salt on a plate, an inverted glass, a Bible and an empty chair.
“We have some great symbols in our society that remind us we still have soldiers missing,” Hort said as he listed the symbols on display. “The POW/MIA flag is the only flag other than the national flag to fly above the White House.”
Read more in the Sept. 26 edition of the News.