(Editor’s Note: Viewpoint submissions on this and other topics are always welcome as part of our goal to encourage community discussion and exchange of perspectives.)
Sept. 7, 2019 — Friday, Sept. 20, is POW-MIA Recognition Day. This day and the POW-MIA flag, representing Prisoners of War and those still Missing In Action, are symbolic of our nation’s resolve to never leave our warriors behind. Our armed forces will look for the missing until they are accounted for.
Sunday, Sept. 29, is Gold Star Mother’s Day. A Gold Star Mother is one who lost a son or daughter while serving their nation in times of war or conflict. These two special days have a great deal in common.
On Sept. 20 and Sept. 29, we should all stop and ponder the losses of our American families through the years. After all, these losses and sacrifices were made to protect our nation. Over the years, about 1 million brave warriors lost their American Dream so that we could live ours.
We should remember that:
• All totaled, there were over 130,000 American Military Personnel who were Prisoners of War in the 20th and 21st century wars; 184 from Oregon.
• About 7,500 warriors are missing from World War I; 19 from Oregon.
• 72,676 warriors are missing from World War II; 886 from Oregon.
• 7,634 warriors are missing from the Korean War; 56 from Oregon.
• As of July 26, 2019, there are 1,587 still missing in Southeast Asia; 33 from Oregon.
Let us all keep these sacrifices at the forefront. That is the purpose of the POW-MIA Flag; that is the reason there are monuments and memorials.
The adage “Let us not forget” is appropriate.
We should support those who are working to help us not to forget. Yes, more monuments and memorials should be built. There is a shortage of memorials that specifically honor our Vietnam Veterans.
In our capital city of Salem, on state properties, one can find memorials and monuments that honor the veterans of every war except the Vietnam War and the Persian Gulf War of 1991. There are Vietnam War Memorials in Portland, Canby, Newport and a new memorial is under construction in Medford. Many communities have established memorials and parks that honor veterans from all wars.
The community of Boring, Ore., dedicated a Vietnam War Memorial at its Boring Station Trailhead Park on Sept. 21, 2018, which was POW-MIA Recognition Day. A portion of the dedication ceremony included the raising of the POW-MIA Flag for the first time over Boring.
The dedication ceremony also paid tribute to Gold Star Mothers and Gold Star Families as the community honored 41 Clackamas County warriors who gave the ultimate sacrifice in Vietnam.
A group of Oregon residents is proposing a Vietnam War Memorial on the Oregon State Capitol Grounds. This proposed memorial will honor all who served during the Vietnam War Era, regardless of their duty station. Special reverence for those who served in Vietnam and those Oregonians that perished in Vietnam will be included.
Also, this memorial is planned to have tributes to all Gold Star Families, Oregon’s Prisoners Of War and those Missing In Action.
Perhaps you can take some time and review the proposed Vietnam War Memorial on the Oregon State Capitol Grounds (www.vietnamwarmemorialfund.org.) The motto for this project is: “Let us honor our warriors and remember the fallen.”
Those of us who never wore a military uniform should give special consideration to POW-MIA Recognition Day and Gold Star Mother’s Day with a resolve to honor all who served and sacrificed. We must also remember their families.
These sacrifices were made so that we can live as a free people.
Let us never forget.
Steve Bates has resided in Boring, Ore., for 42 years and is a Life Member of the Associates of Vietnam Veterans of America. He serves as Chair of the Committee on Memorials & Remembrance and President of the Vietnam War Memorial Fund.