Officials observe POW/MIA Day with ceremony.
NORRISTOWN >> Montgomery County officials took a moment Friday to remember those service men and women who never got the chance to return home.
Outside the Montgomery County Courthouse, Montgomery County Commissioners held a ceremony to remember those veterans who were prisoners of war or missing in action. POW/ MIA Day is observed every year on the third Friday in September.
“We are here on the annual POW/MIA Day where we rededicate ourselves to the memory of those missing in action and POWs. There are now 40,031 individuals that have that status so it’s important that we remember that,” said Montgomery County Commissioner Chairwoman Valerie Arkoosh.
The ceremony took place on Main Street in front of the courthouse’s Vietnam Memorial. On Friday, additional reminders were added to the space including a set table symbolizing those missing.
“The table is round to show our everlasting concern. The cloth is white, symbolizing the purity of their motives when answering the call to serve. The single red rose reminds us of the lives of those Americans and their friends and loved ones who kept the faith while seeking answers. The yellow ribbon symbolizes our continued uncertainty and hope of their returns. The slice of lemon reminds us of their bitter fate, captured and missing in a foreign land,” explained Bill Keyes, former commander of the Disabled American Veterans.
“A pinch of salt symbolizes the tears for our missing and their families who long for answers. The lighted candle reflects our hope for their return, alive or dead. The Bible represents the strength gained through faith to sustain us and those lost for our country founded as one nation under God. The glass is inverted to symbolize their inability to share a toast. The chair is empty. They are missing,” continued Keyes.
Also placed by the memorial was a POW chair that is usually placed inside the courthouse. The chair was kept at the memorial for the remainder of the day.
“The monument behind us, the chair behind us, remind us that every day we should keep our soldiers currently in actions, those that we’ve lost in the line of duty and those that have gone missing in our thoughts and prayers, and the families of those soldiers,” said Commissioner Joe Gale.
The brief ceremony was followed by a moment of silence after comments from commissioners and Keyes.
“Here at the county we are so grateful for all of our veterans, for their service and do anything that we can to support them,” said Arkoosh.
So far this year, Commissioners have helped 490 veterans file for earned VA claims benefits which is valued at about $4 million, Arkoosh said.
Additionally, the county has provided assistance to 88 veterans and their family members who were homeless or at risk of homelessness and now have two shuttles that provide transportation for veterans who need to attend medical appointments.
The ceremony closed with a rendition of “Taps” and a salute by the Montgomery County Honor Guard.
From left, Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Gale, Commissioners’ Chairwoman Valerie Arkoosh and William Keyes stand behind a symbolic table set to remind viewers of those POW and MIA veterans.
Montgomery County Commissioners held a ceremony Friday observing POW/MIA day. The event, held outside the Montgomery County courthouse served as a reminder of those who saw action and never returned home.
“Taps” was played outside the Montgomery County Courthouse Friday following a moment of silence in remembrance of POW and MIA veterans. (Marian Dennis — Digital First Media)