Statistics show thousands missing
The total number of Americans listed as Missing In Action as of July 2010 is 81,864, according to The Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office.
That includes 74,074 from World War II; 8,025 from the Korean War; 125 from the Cold War and 1,713 from the Vietnam War. There are 0 MIA from Desert Storm.
This weekend, the American Legion Post 180 of Great Bend, along with the American Legion Riders, will pay tribute to Prisoners of War and military personnel listed as Missing in Action. They will also show honor to the American flag by retiring flags that are no longer fit emblems of patriotism.
The national observance of POW/MIA Recognition Day is always on the third Friday in September, but Barton County will continue that remembrance with special events Saturday and Sunday, said Roy Titsworth, Great Bend’s American Legion Post Commander and chairman of the event.
On Saturday, things get rolling with the POW-MIA Remembrance Ride. Staging is at 9:30 a.m. at Ellinwood City Park on the west side of town, where the Ride 4 Hope Car Show will be starting at 10. American Legion Riders will leave Ellinwood at 11 a.m., and ride to Claflin and Hoisington before arriving at Brit Spaugh Park in Great Bend around 12:05 p.m. They will be joined by area dignitaries for a parade down Great Bend’s Main Street to the courthouse square at 12:30 p.m.
After a lap around the square, everyone will assemble on the south side of the courthouse for programs at 1 p.m.
Carol Danielson, who is helping organize the event, said World War II style aircraft will fly over the assembly in the "missing man formation." There will also be a missing man table ceremony and a ceremonial retirement of a U.S. flag and a POW/MIA flag.
There will be food venders and other booths set up in Jack Kilby Square. Military Moms will have a sample display of the packages they send to deployed troops. A bagpiper will also be on hand.
After the ceremony in downtown Great Bend, American Legion Riders plan to ride to the Municipal Airport, where an air festival and fly-in is taking place all weekend.
The Legion will honor veterans during dances at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday at the Post Home, 1011 Kansas Ave. D.J. Bob Couch is a Vietnam veteran and incorporates a patriotic tribute into his program.
The remembrance will continue at 1 p.m. Sunday when veterans plan to retire more than 1,000 U.S. flag at the Post Home. Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, under adult supervision, will assist with this ceremony by inspecting American flags that have become tattered, sun-bleached, stained or otherwise no longer a fitting emblem for display. They will be retired by cremation under the U.S. Flag Code.
"The public is invited to come down and dedicate a flag to a loved on," Danielson said.
About POW/MIA Recognition events
Veteran rallies take place in many states on National POW/MIA Recognition Day. United States flags and POW/MIA flags are flown on this day and joint prayers are made for POWs and those missing in action. Remembrance ceremonies and other events to observe the day are also held in places such as the Pentagon, war memorials and museums.
There are 1,741 American personnel listed by the Defense Department’s POW/MIA Office as missing and unaccounted for from the Vietnam War. The number of United States personnel accounted for since the end of the Vietnam War in 1975 is 841. About 90 percent of those still missing were lost in Vietnam or areas of Laos and Cambodia under Vietnam’s wartime control, according to the National League of Families website.
Congress first passed a resolution authorizing National POW/MIA Recognition Day to be observed on July 18, 1979. Since 1986 it has been observed in September. Although not a national holiday, it is a national observance.