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Sunday, May 1, 2016

MIAs remembered during annual ceremony

Monday, September 19, 2011

An honor guard of riflemen fired a 21-gun salute in honor of prisoners of war and those missing in action at the annual remembrance ceremony at the Monett IOOF Cemetery on Friday. [Times Photos by Murray Bishoff] [Order this photo]
Members of Tom Wolfe Memorial VFW Post #4207 and its Ladies Auxiliary conducted their annual remembrance ceremony to honor soldiers missing in action or held as prisoners of war on Friday at the Monett IOOF Cemetery. Post representatives gathered at the grave of Tom Wolfe, who was killed in the Vietnam war, for the event.

Danetta Wakefield, state junior vice president for the VFW Auxiliary, served as the master of ceremonies. Wakefield stood at a podium near the graveside. Behind her was a rifle squad led by Terry Clay. A small empty table and a chair were placed in front of the grave.

"We must not forget the sacrifices these comrades are still making and the suffering they are still enduring for us and our way of life," Wakefield said.

Looking on during the POW/MIA memorial service on Friday were veterans and members of the public. From left are: Sandy Garner, Jon Suit, John Boucher, Norman Shepherd and Wayne Rutherford.
Following presentation of the colors and a prayer by Post Chaplain Alfred Painter, Wakefield led the Pledge of Allegiance. Symbols were presented to represent the meaning of the sacrifices made for the country.

Flowers were laid on the grave representing the colors of the U.S. flag. Dennis Houseman, Post junior vice commander, presented a red rose representing the courage and willingness to sacrifice. Ken Madison, Post senior vice commander, laid a white flower symbolizing the purity of purpose and unselfishness in serving. Bill Cooper, Post officer of the day, placed a blue flower symbolizing truth, fidelity and the desire of the missing soldiers for peace.

The table, round in its representation of the everlasting concern for the missing, was decorated by Ladies Auxiliary representatives.

Kim Clay, junior vice president of the Auxiliary, laid a white tablecloth symbolizing the purity of motives of those who answered the call to duty. June Hicks, senior vice president, placed a single red rose in a vase as a reminder of the lives of each of the missing and their loved ones who keep the faith, waiting for answers.

Ella Withnell, conductress, placed a bread plate with a lemon slice to offer a reminder of the bitter fate of the captured and missing in foreign lands. The pinch of salt on the plate recalled the tears enduring the families of the missing.

After each presentation, Wakefield paused and said, "Remember."

Painter presented an evergreen sprig, representing undying love of country and the unending commitment of those present to the missing. Kayrn Coatney, Auxiliary chaplain, placed a Bible on the table representing the strength gained by faith and the one nation under God whom the missing served.

Post Commander Quentin Carter laid a laurel wreath symbolizing victory over death. Auxiliary President Mary Thurman placed an inverted glass on the table representing the inability of the missing to share in the day's toast. Thurman then folded the chair and placed it at an angle against the table to represent the absence.

"Remember, all of us who have served with and called them comrades, they were soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Guardsmen. We depended upon them for their might. Let us remember. Surely, they have not forgotten you," Wakefield concluded.

The rifle squad then offered a 21-round salute and members of the Purdy High School Chorus released black balloons in memory of the missing and sang the National Anthem.

In addition to those present from the public, the event was attended by a van of veterans from the Veterans Home in Mt. Vernon. The group was treated to a meal at the VFW Post prior to the ceremony.

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