Veterans groups honor soldiers
Annual ceremony held Friday at South Park
A solemn ceremony honoring the sacrifices of American soldiers, particularly those who served as prisoners of war and missing in action, gathered an assembly at the F-15 jet veterans memorial at Monett's South Park on Friday for the annual ceremony, hosted jointly by Monett's veterans organizations.
Leaders of the Tom Wolfe Memorial Post No. 4207, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and its Ladies Auxiliary, were joined by representatives of Hobbs-Anderson American Legion Post No. 91, and Disabled American Veterans Chapter No. 64 for the service. Honored guests from the Veterans Home in Mt. Vernon and Alvin Schad of Purdy, survivor of the Bataan death march, were present, as well as the public audience.
A choir from Purdy High School, lead by instructor Lauren Lee, sang the National Anthem and Billy Ray Cyrus's song "Some Gave All."
Directed by Danetta Wakefield, past state president of the VFW Ladies Auxiliary, officers of both the VFW Post and Ladies Auxiliary laid symbols recognizing the sacrifices of the soldiers. A red flower reflected the blood shed in courage and gallantry, a blue flower symbolized truth and fidelity, as well as the desire for peace and happiness throughout the world. An evergreen sprig symbolized undying love for imprisoned and missing comrades. A laurel wreath represented victory over death.
A table set next to the veterans memorial monument at the plane included additional symbols. The round table symbolized everlasting concern for the missing. A white tablecloth represented the purity of motives of those who answered the call of duty. A red ribbon around the flower vase reflected continued determination to account for the missing. A slice of lemon on the bread plate symbolized the bitter fate of those captured and missing, and the pinch of salt recalled the tears of family members seeking answers.
With each presentation, Wakefield intoned the command, "Remember."
A rifle squad offered a 21-gun salute in honor of the honor of America's prisoners of war and soldiers missing in action. Members of the Purdy choir also released black balloons in their memory.
According to the latest reports, 567,155 Americans have been classified as prisoners of war. Of those, 80,248 died in captivity and 88,285 remain listed as missing. In the last two months, 1Wakefield said, the remains of three soldiers listed as missing in action from World War II, and one from the Korean War have been returned home.
To conclude the ceremony, veterans Rick Allen and Nick Sczenski demonstrated the folding of the U.S. flag, and what each of the folds signifies.
In her concluding prayer, Tawnya Swofford, chaplain for the VFW Ladies Auxiliary, said, "We pray for those missing comrades who have been called to thy bosom that whatever justice they have been denied in this life has been granted them a hundredfold."