Ceremony says they’re not forgotten

MEMBERS OF THE LADEWIGZINKGRAF American Legion Post 243 of Plymouth took time Saturday to say “You are not forgotten.”

In a ceremony at Plymouth City Hall, they took time to remember the many thousands of prisoners of war and missing in action from all of this nation’s wars and conflicts.

It was a solemn ceremony, capped by the raising of the POW/MIA flag on the City Hall flagpole, just below the American flag.

The black and white POW/MIA flag is the only flag other than the stars and stripes to fly over the White House, which it does every year on POW/MIA Remembrance Day – the third Friday in September.

The POW/MIA Remembrance Day was officially recognized by the federal government in 1979 after the families of the more than 2,500 Vietnam War POW/MIAs pushed for full accountability for their loved ones.

It was an especially fitting remembrance this year, as a Ken Burns documentary series on public television reminds us of that bitterly divisive Vietnam War, which saw so many brave young men and women go off to fight – and die – in a war that many questioned and that divided this nation as no war had since the Civil War a century earlier.

The day recognizes not only those brave POW/MIAs from Vietnam, but also from earlier – and later – wars. In World War II, for instance, there were 130,201 service members who became prisoners of war and another 73,515 listed as missing in action.

Each of those prisoners of war and missing in action are more than just another number. They are proud, brave service members who paid a tremendous price in defense of our freedom. Many returned home heroes, but scarred and marked by their experience, while others never returned.

They also represent family, friends and loved ones who worried about their safety and well-being in captivity or were left with only pain and questions for those who never returned.

During the year, several days are set aside to honor and recognize the many millions throughout our history who have worn a uniform and served the nation in the Armed Forces.

For those fortunate to have served and come home alive, they and their service are honored on Veterans Day, Nov. 11. For those who paid the ultimate price and sacrificed their lives for freedom, they are remembered on Memorial Day, the last Monday in May.

And for those who bravely endured captivity at the hands of an enemy, for those who went missing and never made it back home to those they left behind, the third Friday in September is the day set aside to ensure that they are never forgotten – and never will be.

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