KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- On Sept.19, our nation will observe Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Recognition Day. This annual event honors our prisoners of war, those missing in action, and their families. It also serves as a reminder of our government's commitment to account for more than 83,000 Americans still missing who sacrificed themselves for their country - our country. The Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office, located near Washington, D.C., leads this endeavor.
This year, Kunsan is observing POW/MIA Recognition Day with a 24-hour vigil and run beginning at 4 p.m. Sept. 18 and ending at 4 p.m. Sept. 19 with a closing ceremony and 3-volley rifle salute commemorating our lost brothers and sisters.
As we take this time to reflect, honor and observe this sacred day, our POW/MIA and the families they left behind will be constantly on my mind and in my thoughts and prayers.
When I was a young boy, I would visit different families and see a picture of a young man in uniform and ask, "Who is that? Why haven't I seen him?" These must have been heart-wrenching questions coming from a little boy. They would tell me the name of the person and why I had never seen them...you know the answer. The older I became, the more I understood. There was never a POW/MIA Recognition Day in my small rural home town. Once I joined the United States Air Force, I really understood the Never Forget ethos we use for our POW/MIA.
When do we stop looking and accounting for our prisoners of war and missing in action? The answer of course is clear - never; never because we made a commitment as a Nation. We made promises to families to Never Forget. We will Never Forget the sacrifices they made so we can be a free Nation.
Never Forget, they paved the way for freedom and America's way of life. Never Forget, they preserved freedom for other countries to protect their way of life. Never Forget, we have been at war for over 13 years and we still collectively answer our Nation's call. Never Forget, America is still the land of the free and home of the brave because of the men and women we honor today.
Never Forget, this is not the only day to remember...