Friday, September 18, 2009

Yuma Honors Missing POW MIA

Yumans gathered at the American Legion Post 19 Friday morning for the
POW/MIA Recognition Breakfast, an event that honors and remembers the
sacrifices of the nation's prisoners of war and military personnel who
are still considered missing in action. "This is our way of reminding
ourselves and others that there are still people in captivity," said
Post Commander Herschel Patterson. "Our hope is one day they are
repatriated and return home."

The breakfast at the post was part of National POW/MIA Recognition Day
ceremonies held around the nation on Friday. By custom, the day is
often observed in Pentagon ceremonies on the third Friday in
September. The featured speaker at the ceremony was Retired Marine
Col.  Mack Luckie, who commanded Marine Corps Air Station Yuma from
May of 1988 to July of 1990. Luckie told those in attendance that now
more than ever, because the country is at war again, Americans must
never forget those who never made it back and to help the American
Legion and other Veterans organizations bring them home. "Let nations
around the world understand that we, as Americans, value our way of
life, that we value each person who contributes to it and who fights
to preserve it," Luckie said. "We are determined to continue our
efforts to free all the families of our missing men from the prison of
uncertainty whenever and wherever possible." He continued by saying:
"Whether from Iraq, Afghanistan, Desert Storm, Vietnam, Korea, the
Cold War or World War II, finding our missing is an obligation we owe
to those who serve and to their families — past, present and future.
We have a sacred duty to these men and women." Luckie said he also had
a small personal relationship to National POW/MIA Recognition Day. His
oldest son, who he jokingly referred to as a "turncoat," served in the
U.S. Army as a dental technician and had been assigned to the Military
Forensic Laboratory in Hawaii. His son's job there, Luckie said, was
to help compare the dental records of remains returned to U.S. soil in
an attempt to identify them. "He told me on several occasions, that it
was a sad but rewarding job when he was able to help a family come to
closure of their loved one," Luckie said.

Prior to the beginning of the ceremony post member Norman Miller
conducted the POW/MIA Table Ceremony. "It is set for one, symbolizing
the fact those members of our armed forces are missing from our ranks.
They are referred to as POWs and MIAs. We call them comrades. They are
unable to be with their loved ones and families, so we join together
to pay humble tribute to them, and to bear witness to their continued
absence," Miller said. Until 1979, no commemoration was held to honor
POW/MIAs. That year Congress passed a resolution and a national
ceremony was held in Washington D.C. Since then, every year until
1985, legislation was introduced in Congress to establish a National
POW/MIA Recognition Day. In 1985 Congress decided that commemorative
days would no longer be considered. The President now simply signs a
proclamation each year. The National League of Families proposed that
the third Friday in September be the date of National POW/MIA
Recognition Day. Now ceremonies are held throughout the nation on that
day.

POW/MIA TABLE CEREMONY

This table set for one is small... it symbolizes the frailty of one
prisoner against his oppressors. The table cloth is white... it
symbolizes the purity of their intentions to respond to their
country's call to arms. The single rose displayed in a vase reminds us
of the families and loved ones of our comrades in arms who keep faith
awaiting their return. The red ribbon tied so prominently on the vase
is reminiscent of the red ribbon worn on the lapel and breasts of
thousands who bear witness to their unyielding determination to demand
a proper accounting for our missing. A slice of lemon is on the bread
plate... to remind us of their bitter fate. There is salt upon the
bread plate... symbolic of the family's tears as they wait. The glass
is inverted... they cannot toast with us tonight. The chair is
empty... they are not here. Remember... all of you who served with
them and called them comrades, who depended on their might and aid,
and relied on them... for surely... they have not forsaken you

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