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September/october 2008

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Hundreds of people gathered over Memorial Day on the downtown mall in Cumberland, Maryland, to pay tribute to America’s POWs and MIAs. The Color Guard of VVA Chapter 172 performed a Round Table ceremony in which a table is set with five empty dinner places, symbolizing the POWs and MIAs from the five branches of the military.

“We gather today as veterans and as a community to pay tribute, honor, and respect for the ultimate sacrifice they gave for the freedom we share today—those brave men who lost their lives will not be forgotten,” said Chip Sours, Color Guard narrator for the event and a life member of VVA.

“This isn’t just an ordinary memorial service,” Bob Peck, the coordinator of the event, said. “We want people to be more enlightened about POWs and MIAs and the dedication of those who have kept this a free nation.” Peck, a VVA life member, sits on the board of directors of Chapter 172.

Beginning with World War II, some 142,000 Americans have been prisoners of war. Of those, more than 17,000 died while in captivity. Peck said that 1,761 Americans are still missing from the Vietnam War. Although 822 sets of remains have been recovered, no effort is spared to identify them.

“They’re still finding remains of soldiers from the American Revolution, and they just found ten men in a World War II bomber that went down in Burma. When you bring them home, it brings closure to people’s lives,” he said.
Chapter president and life member Roger Krueger was master of ceremonies and life member Bill Zapt spoke about the area’s rich military history. He reminded the crowd that several former POWs and many modern-day heroes who fought for this country‘s freedom live in the Cumberland area.

The POW-MIA flag was raised between the American and Maryland state flags where it will stand as a reminder about our country’s missing. The ceremony concluded with “Amazing Grace” played on bagpipes and the traditional “Taps.”

 

 

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