LOVES PARK, Ill. (WTVO) ─ Serving in the armed forces is among the noblest things a person can do, but, not everyone makes it home. Some endure the hardships of being a prisoner of war.
The sound of a bugle signaled the start of the 24th annual POW/MIA Remembrance Ceremony at Loves Park City Hall Friday evening. Local veteran group Vietnam2Now organized the event. The group has been holding the ceremony every year, for more than two decades.
Michael Belinson is a Vietnam veteran and the Chairman of the Remembrance Ceremony Committee. He said it is important to remember veterans who went off to war and never returned home.
“The idea is to keep them in our minds and in our prayers, and hope that they do all return sometime,” said Belinson. “There are 1,500 we don’t know about, still over 1,500 from Vietnam, there’s in the 75,000-76,000 range from World War II. Korea there’s a large number, 7,000 or 8,000.”
Names of Illinois’ prisoners of war and missing in action from the Vietnam War era were read, followed by a candle lighting ceremony, and musical performances.
Robyn Ferraro brought her son Jalen to the ceremony. He wanted to attend after learning about it in school.
“I think all kids need to know what happens when people go to war and understand what they’ve done for our country and for us,” said Ferraro.
Ferraro’s brother served in the Vietnam War. He returned home safely, but knows many who did not.
“It’s giving them the recognition that they were there, even though they didn’t get a proper burial or service,” said Ferraro. “I think it’s good for their families, to be able to honor them, too, and get some recognition for losing their loved one.”
“never forget those that aren’t here,” added Belinson. “We don’t know where they are.”
65 Illinois servicemen from the Vietnam War era are listed as a prisoner of war or missing in action.
National POW/MIA Recognition Day is celebrated across the globe on the 3rd Friday of September.
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