9/18/2007 11:04:00 AM Guest Column Friday's a special day to remember our POW/MIAs
By MARY SPINDLER For the Daily News
Sept. 21 is POW/MIA Day - a day to recognize our nation's prisoners of war and those missing in action. It is a day set aside to salute the men and women who have served and sacrificed to keep America free, and to recognize the families of our missing service members (who continue to hope and pray that their loved ones will someday come home). This column is being written as a reminder for all of us to pause on Friday and remember our American patriots who suffered as prisoners of war, or who remain missing.
The U.S. government currently lists 88,000 Americans as missing, and for whom there is no accounting. The numbers are as follows: WW II, 78,000; Korea, 8,100; Vietnam, 1,770; Cold War, 120; Gulf War, 1; and Operation Iraqi Freedom, 4. Now take that number of 88,000, and multiply it by the number of parents, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters, and you have a huge number of the American population who continue to grieve in silence every day. The sense of loss and the horror that these families have experienced is unimaginable.
Living amongst us are also former American POWs, many of whom continue to bear the physical and emotional scars of brutal treatment. Dating back as far as WW II, 140,000 Americans have been held in captivity. Most returned home, but many died while being held prisoner.
As Americans, we are fortunate to live in the only country that cares about the recovery and return of our missing soldiers. The VFW has made this issue a priority, and each year they send representatives to search for the identities of those missing from WW II, Korea, Vietnam, and the Cold War. They engage with these foreign governments and their veterans' organizations on a humanitarian level. By talking with former enemies and exchanging information, many of our MIA's have been identified. Much progress has been made in the past few years, and the search will continue as long as there are soldiers for whom there is no accounting.
On Sept. 21, when you see the flags flying, please stop to remember our POW/MIAs. These individuals answered our nation's call to service; they sacrificed their lives for our freedom, and undoubtedly, they suffered greatly. The least we can do is to remember them, keep them in our thoughts and prayers, and bring awareness to this important day.