Some never came home. Others arrived back in the United States only after being held — sometimes tortured — by the enemy. The missing in action and prisoners of war are not forgotten, however, and will be honored this week in the Parkland.
Mineral Area Memorial VFW Post 5741 and its Auxiliary will hold a POW-MIA ceremony at 6 p.m. Friday at the Post, 5741 Woodlawn Dr., in Leadington.
Norman Rigdon VFW Post 5896 in Farmington will hold its annual POW/MIA ceremony at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Post, 814 E. Karsch Blvd.
The public is welcome at both events, as are any former prisoners of war or their families.
Veterans hold the ceremony each year to remind people of the sacrifices made by veterans. Although there may be slight differences, the ceremony includes a traditional table set for the missing servicemen/servicewomen.
For example, Farmington’s table usually includes a setting for each branch of the service. This year, Leadington’s Post is considering a table with one place setting to symbolize them all.
The traditional POW-MIA ceremonial table features several symbolic items. Among items used in these ceremonies are: A single rose that stands for the soldiers’ loved ones and family and salt that represents their tears. A slice of lemon symbolizes lost soldiers’ bitter fate and an inverted glass is a reminder that they cannot join the toast. A red, white and blue ribbon attached to the vase by a yellow ribbon symbolizes those who wait at home. A candle represents the prisoner who is alone and a black ribbon on it represents those who are not coming home.”
Both Posts include a display of an upside-down rifle topped by a helmet and dog tags. Combat boots sit at the foot of the rifle. The rifle symbolizes a practice used in war when a soldier is slain. Comrades disable the soldier’s rifle and stick it into the ground, bayonet first. Then they put the soldier’s helmet and dog tags on the rifle.
Special guests typically include former prisoners of war during World War II, Korea and Vietnam. As those veterans age, fewer are able to attend each year, local organizers noted.
Paula Barr is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-431-2010, ext. 172 or at email@example.com.