POW/MIA Day observed in Caribou

13 years ago

Military veterans, family members and area residents gathered at the Northern Maine Veteran’s Cemetery in Caribou, on Friday, in honor of POW/MIA Day.

The annual POW/MIA Day, held on the third Friday of September, is recognized as a time to keep the solemn promise to service men and women to never forget and always remember those who have yet to return home.

General Brent Boyles, deputy adjutant genera, Maine National Guard spoke to those in attendance, explaining the history of the POW/MIA flag and the designated date. Although not a federal holiday, this date is a national observance day.

Gen. Boyes spoke of the 1,741 service personnel during the Vietnam War, listed as POW/MIA in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia; 14 of these MIAs are from Maine. Boyes also added that there are 38 Maine veterans listed as MIA, from the Korean  conflict.

“The symbols on the POW/MIA flag reflect the country’s resolve to never forget these individuals,” said Boyes.

Other speakers at the Remembrance Ceremony included Sharon Campbell, regional representative for U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe; Phil Bosse, state office representative for U.S. Sen. Susan Collins and Barbara Hayslett, district representative for U.S. Congressman Michael Michaud.

In remarks, read by Bosse, Sen. Collin stated in part: “Today, here in Caribou and across our nation, Americans reaffirm a solemn vow we make to all who serve in uniform and defend our freedom — they will never be forgotten. We make this vow to those who serve and return home, to the fallen and to the heroes who endured the hardship of enemy confinement or whose fate in time of war remains unknown.”

“Since World War I, more than 140,000 Americans have suffered the hardships of captivity as prisoners of war. Through two World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, the Cold War, the Gulf War and the conflicts of today, some 88,000 Americans remain missing and unaccounted for. We must never forget their courage, devotion to duty and sacrifice.”

In part, Sen. Snowe stated, in a letter read by Campbell: “Beginning on July 18,1979, our nation has taken one day every year to pause to salute the incredible bravery demonstrated throughout our history by all those who have not returned from the battlefield as well as those imprisoned by the enemy. Those veterans who have been returned to us after enduring unimaginable adversity as captives of the enemy have embodied the very best of the American spirit in the very worst of conditions and we honor their tremendous resilience, sacrifice and courage. Their memories serve to inspire us and remind us of our sacred obligation to account for all who are missing in action and our indisputable duty to bring them home — no matter how long it takes — no matter what it takes.”

Hayslett reading Con. Michaud’s remarks said, in part: “Today we pay tribute to those brave men and women who were prisoners of war or missing in action. We are humbled by their actions on behalf of us all. We honor those who came back to us, those that died and all those men and women who are missing in action or suffered through the hardships of imprisonment. For some, we may never know about the trials they went through. We might never fully understand what situation they were in or are currently in. But we do know this — they represent the best of our country. They gave up everything so that the rest of us could live in peace.”

Following the guest speakers’ remarks,  Harry Hafford, chairman of the Northern Maine Veterans’  Cemetery Corporation, and Gen. Boyles placed a ceremonial wreath at the POW//MIA monument in Remembrance Park.

Members of the American Legion Post 147, Madawaska Legion Riders, presented a 21 Gun Salute, and the ceremony concluded with the playing of “Taps” presented by Fred Ormezanni and the Benediction by Rev. Brown.

The program followed the posting of the Colors by the Loring Job Corps Color Guard, (under the supervision of SMSGT Roger Felix) and the flags from local veteran organizations, ‘Claudia Stevens and Friends’ led in the singing of the National Anthem and  Rev. Mary Lou Brown gave the Invocation.

Andre Dumais served as emcee for the afternoon ceremony.