Salute to the missing

Published 10:09 pm Monday, September 23, 2019

National POW/MIA Recognition Day was marked in a special way in Suffolk this year.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars Department of Virginia recognized this exceptional group of service men and women with a new monument at Albert G. Horton Jr. Memorial Veterans Cemetery on Friday.

The black granite Chair of Honor reads “this unoccupied seat is dedicated to the memory of the brave men and women of Virginia who are unaccounted for, from all wars,” followed by an earnest and everlasting proclamation: “you are not forgotten.”

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“The purpose of this monument is to give us focus,” VFW National Surgeon General Dr. Curtis “Doc” Bohlman said in his remarks. “To focus our thoughts on our comrades who have given so much, and remind us to say ‘you are not forgotten’ to our prisoners of war, those still missing in action and their families, many of whom still seek closure.”

The Chair of Honor was made possible by contributions from VFW Department of Virginia District 2, VFW Post Auxiliaries and the VFW Riders Virginia.

According to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, about 1,344 service men and women from Virginia are unaccounted for. They’re some of the more than 82,000 Americans listed as missing or unaccounted for from U.S. wars going back to the beginning of World War II.

While all who serve — and their families — endure great hardship and sacrifice to protect their homeland, these prisoners of war and missing in action have given even more. Many POWs suffered greatly at the hands of enemies. The missing in action never returned home, not even with the small comfort of giving their family closure. There are hundreds of thousands of Americans who do not know where their loved one’s remains rest, and they deserve a day when the rest of us can pause and reflect on their unique sacrifice.

We appreciate and salute the Veterans of Foreign Wars Department of Virginia for its honor of their comrades and their families taking place right here in Suffolk.