The community is invited to join a POW/MIA Remembrance Day at the VFW next month to honor and remember those who were prisoners of war as well as missing in action.
The National POW/MIA Recognition Day is observed on the third Friday of each September in the United States. This year the Greater Pine Island VFW will hold a remembrance day on Sept. 23.
VFW Ladies Auxiliary President Bernadette Sullivan said they have not held the ceremony for the last three or four years and wanted to bring it back this year.
The Vietnam Veterans of America Fire Base #594 and Rolling Thunder Chapter 2 are sponsoring the event.
Rolling Thunder's mission is "to educate, facilitate and never forget by means of a demonstration for service members that were abandoned after the Vietnam War."
Rolling Thunder President Dan Hurley said they try to hold the ceremony somewhere every year. This year, he said the chapter decided to do its own ceremony, so they proposed the idea to the VFW, which they accepted.
If You Go:
What: POW/MIA Remembrance Day
When: Sept. 23 with ceremony beginning at 11 a.m.
Where: VFW Post 4353, 8150 Stringfellow Road in St. James City
The ceremony will begin at 11 a.m.
Hurley said they will have an honor guard to present the colors at the beginning of the ceremony, which will then be followed by a table ceremony. He said a member from each branch of service in uniform will circle around the table, which will include a serving for all of them.
A speech will then be made about the ceremony, which will be followed by each gentleman laying his hat on the table, picking up a glass and then turning it over on the table. Hurley explained this ceremony as the missing man ceremony.
Another ceremony will be held for the POW/MIA table. The table consists of such items as a candle, rose, plate setting and a chair. A speech will be presented during the ceremony to describe what each item means on the table.
"I light the candle at the end of that," Hurley said, adding that the honor guard presents him with a rifle as he stands guard of the table.
The remembrance ceremony will also include speakers. Although the list is still growing, right now former VFW commander Larry Guy will be among the speakers. Hurley said they are hoping to have Commissioner Ray Judah speak as well.
The final presentation will be the cage ceremony. Hurley said in Vietnam prisoners were kept in bamboo cages.
"We bring the cage in with someone in it dressed as if they were a prisoner in Vietnam," he said. "We release the man and escort him away, showing that we rescued him and freed him."
Hurley explained the POW/MIA Remembrance Day as a tear-jerker.
"Very emotional," he said. "It is a good ceremony."
Hurley said there are still active searches taking place for all the MIAs.
"Every month we come up with more people," he said, adding that it is about the finality of bringing them home.
Food, which includes barbecue chicken, beans, cole slaw, macaroni salad, rolls and a butter cake will be served at 1 p.m. A $7 per plate donation is being asked for the lunch. Music will begin at 2 p.m.
A Marine Corps K-Bar, a Marine sword, raffle will be held after the ceremony concludes, along with basket raffles and a 50/50.
Sullivan said they have POW and MIA flags available for those who wish to purchase one.
The VFW will also hold a Chili Cook-Off Sept. 29 from 3-5 p.m. The community is invited to participate in the event. Those interested can pick up an entry form at the VFW canteen. RV Parks will provide live music beginning at 5 p.m.
On Oct. 27 a Membership Drive Hog Roast will be held will be held at the VFW. More details will be released when they become available.