The Pine Island VFW Post 4353 will host the 2nd annual Recognition Day Ceremony Sunday, Sept. 22, at 1 pm.
The United States National POW/MIA Recognition Day is observed across the nation on the third Friday of September each year. Many Americans take the time to remember those who were prisoners of war (POW) and those who are missing in action (MIA), as well as their families. According to the Department of Defense there are still 1,644 Americans still "unaccounted for" in Southeast Asia.
All military installations fly the National League of Families POW/MIA flag, which symbolizes the nation's remembrance of those who were imprisoned while serving in conflicts and those who remain missing.
This year the Greater Pine Island VFW will hold a Recognition Day ceremony Sunday, Sept. 22. The event is sponsored by the Vietnam Veterans of America Fire Base #594 and Rolling Thunder Chapter 2.
"I would like to invite all Pine Islanders to the VFW Sunday afternoon," Dan Hurley, President of Rolling Thunder, Chapter 2, said. "This is our second year celebrating Recognition Day. Last year we had over 200 people and we expect an even bigger turnout this year."
The event will be hosted by newly elected VFW Commander Keith Keefer, who served in the U.S. Army from 1967-1970 and spent most of his time in Germany, with the exception of 1969 when he was in Vietnam.
The ceremony will begin at 1 p.m. with an honor guard presenting the colors, which will be followed by a table (missing man) ceremony.
One of the two sponsors of the event is Rolling Thunder Inc. Rolling Thunder's mission is to bring full accountability for the Prisoners of War-Missing In Action (POW/MIA) of all wars, reminding the government, the media and the public by our watchwords" "We Will Never Forget."
Their Table Ceremony is one of the most moving ceremonies. The Table (Missing Man) Ceremony honors missing loved ones. There is a table set for six with each branch of the military represented by an empty seat: Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard. There is a sixth setting for Civilians. The honor ceremony symbolizes that those still missing are with us in spirit.
If You Go:
What: POW/MIA Recognition Day
When: Sunday, Sept. 22, with ceremony beginning at 1 pm.
Where: VFW Post 4353, 8150 Stringfellow Road, in St. James City
The final presentation will be the cage ceremony, which will include a bamboo cage that the Vietnam prisoners were kept in. A cage will be brought into the VFW with someone dressed in full uniform inside. The conclusion of the ceremony will be the release of the prisoner, as well as an escort away from the cage, showing he is freed.
There will be a POW/MIA K-Bar raffle held after the ceremony is over, along with basket raffles and a 50/50. POW and MIA flags are also available for purchase.
"We are pretty proud that we are able to put this on," Hurley said of the remembrance ceremony. "It will be a nice day."