Northern Maine Veterans Cemetery honors POW/MIA

9 years ago
    CARIBOU, Maine — The lives of prisoners of war and those who are missing in action were honored last Friday at the Northern Maine Veterans Cemetery.

     The Loring Job Corps Honor Guard, Congressional Representatives Phil Bosse, Sharon Campbell and Kim Rohn were in attendance along with Keynote Speaker Kris Doody and the American Legion Riders of Madawaska Chapter 147, who fired a 21-gun salute for the ceremony.

     Harry Hafford, chairman of the Northern Maine Veterans Cemetery and his son, Pastor Harry Hafford, Jr., spoke after Chloe Wheeler sang the National Anthem.

     “Today we remember and pay tribute to the many Americans who courageously served in the armed forces of our country and have yet to return home,” said Hafford Sr. “Last week, one of the people we have on our wall of honor was returned home. They found his remains. His name is Neil B. Taylor, Lt. Junior U.S. Navy Pilot. He was just returned after 50 years.”

     “Just as information,” said Master of Ceremonies Jim Gehring of the Smart Ricker DAV Post in Presque Isle, “there are 73,000 missing servicemen and women out there. In the state of Maine, there are 700 World War II veterans, 44 Korean War veterans, and now one less, 11 Vietnam veterans still missing, so it is important that we continue these ceremonies and go after these remains.”

     Keynote Speaker Kris Doody, Cary Medical Center CEO, described the history of POW/MIA events and stressed their importance.

     “The first official commemoration of POW/MIAs was on July 18th, 1979. It was the result of resolutions passed in Congress. The first national ceremony was held on that day. Over the next several years it was held on varying dates. Finally, in 1986, the National League of Families proposed the third Friday in September as the day to recognize and remember all of our prisoners of war and those missing in action. This date was selected, as it was not associated with any wars.

     “It’s a sobering thought that there are still more than 83,000 American servicemen and women who are unaccounted for. More than 70,000 from World War II, nearly 8,000 from Korea, and more than 1,600 from Vietnam, and over 130 from other conflicts. As a nation, the United States has pledged to do all in its power to recover or account for all who have served, and as we heard today, a Mainer has been brought home,” she said.

     “We have a little over 40 members who are registered this year and we are always very active here at the Caribou Veterans Cemetery,” said Jenn Daigle of the American Legion Riders of Madawaska. “We are present for POW/MIA day, Vietnam Veterans ceremonies, Memorial Day Parades. We do our 21-gun salutes for funerals as well as ceremonies, and also donate Christmas gifts to veterans in nursing homes.”