In the United States, Veterans Day remembers living veterans, and Memorial Day honors veterans who have passed on. The third Friday in September, however, is reserved for remembering those veterans who are still missing in action or prisoners of war.
A special remembrance service for those MIA/POW veterans was celebrated Friday at the All Veterans Memorial in Elkins.
Charles Ranew of the H.W. Daniels Post 29 American Legion in Elkins welcomed those gathered at the service.
Mike Cardinal, of the H.W. Daniels Post 29 American Legion in Elkins, explains the symbolism in a small table display during Friday’s MIA/POW Remembrance Service at the All Veterans Memorial in Elkins. (The Inter-Mountain photo by Beth Christian Broschart)
Danielle Hedrick, 9th District President of the Coalton VFW Post 5583 Auxiliary, lights candles Friday during a MIA/POW Remembrance Service at the All Veterans Memorial in Elkins. The 17 candles honored those from West Virginia who are prisoners of war, missing in action or killed in action but not recovered. (The Inter-Mountain photo by Beth Christian Broschart)
"Today we remember those veterans who are missing in action or prisoners of war," Ranew said. "They paid the ultimate sacrifice."
Mike Cardinal, also of Post 29, explained the symbolism of items at a small table, set for one.
"The table set for one symbolizes the fact that members of our armed forces are missing from our ranks," Cardinal said. "They are referred to as POWs and MIAs. We call them comrades. They are unable to be with their loved ones and families, so we join together to pay humble tribute to them, and bear witness to their continued absence."
Cardinal said the table was small, symbolizing the frailty of one prisoner, alone against his or her captors.
"The tablecloth is white, symbolic of the purity of their intentions to respond to their country's call to arms," Cardinal said. "The single rose in the vase signifies the blood they may have shed in sacrifice to ensure the freedom of our beloved United States of America. It also reminds us of the family and friends of our missing comrades who keep faith while awaiting their return."
Other articles on the table include a red ribbon, symbolic of red ribbons worn on lapels, a slice of lemon that reminds people of their bitter fate, and salt, symbolizing the countless fallen tears of the families as they wait.
"The inverted glass is inverted because they cannot toast with us at this time," Cardinal said. "The chair is empty because they are not here - the candle is reminiscent of the light of hope that lives in our hearts to illuminate their way home, and the American flag reminds us that many of them may never return. They have paid the supreme sacrifice to insure our freedom."
A candle was lit for each of the prisoners of war, or missing in action or killed in action but body not recovered from the state of West Virginia. The candles, lit by Danielle Hedrick, 9th District President of the American Legion Auxiliary, were to honor John Scott Albright II, of Huntington; Albert Harold Altizer, of Squire; Joseph Clair Austin, of Moundsville; Jerry Edward Auxier, of Dixie; Keith Royal Wilson Curry, of Salem; James Edward Duncan, of Point Pleasant; Robert W. Hunt, of Beckley; Carroll B. Lilly, of Morgantown; Danny G. Marshall of Waverly; Michael Robert Norton, of Eskdale; Marshall I. Pauley, of Milton; Ronald Keith Pennington, of Hambleton; Joe Harold Pringle, of Horner; Hughie Franklin Snider, of New Cumberland; Dean Calvin Spencer III, of Morgantown; James Lawrence Taylor, of Nitro; and David Wallace Wickham II, of Wheeling.
Members from the American Legion Post 29 of Elkins, the American Legion Post 29 Auxiliary of Elkins, Coalton VFW 5583 and Coalton VFW 5583 Auxiliary organized Friday's ceremony.