Safety Matters: Remembering our former POWs and MIAs
It was my distinct honor to take part in the National Former Prisoner of War Day commemoration ceremony recently held at the Veterans Affairs Hospital in Buffalo. Congressman Brian Higgins and former Sheriff Tom Higgins, who gave the keynote address, participated in the ceremony, together with a nearly-full audience, consisting of approximately 20 former POWs, including one who survived the Bataan Death March.
By their very presence, they represented those who did not make it back to their homeland. Their silver hair was tucked underneath military caps and their faces were etched with deep wrinkles that only a lifetime lived can manifest. Their strides were slower and more deliberate than in years past, but it was their apparent pride in the service and sacrifice they performed for their country that stood out the most.
This was a special day to honor and remember all former American prisoners of war and those missing in action who valiantly served our country. Higgins was right, when he told the audience, “We should remember POWs and MIAs [missing in action] every day.”
I’m not sure anyone can quite appreciate the freedom that exists in our country unless they have been deprived of it. What was life truly like for these soldiers behind barbed wire fences on foreign shores? I’m sure it was a huge price to pay to not be able to see the sunshine of another day or, worse yet, not to live to see another day.
In closing, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the men and women who serve or have served in our armed forces.
And to those former POWs and MIAs, those who would become the fathers we never knew, the uncles we never met, the friends who would never return and the heroes we can never possibly repay, I salute you.