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Miami VA Healthcare System

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Until Every Story Ends: Honoring Our POW/MIAs

Military Hat on Table

The Missing Man Table and Honors ceremony paid tribute to those still unaccounted for and missing in action.

By Jennifer Curreri, MSW, Miami VA Healthcare System
Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Each year, celebrations are held across the country as Americans remember their responsibility to stand by those who serve our nation and do everything possible to account for those who have not returned.  The Miami VA Healthcare System's POW/MIA program was held at the main hospital on September 17 when 28 Former Prisoners of War were honored for their bravery, sacrifice and courage.

The term Prisoner of War refers to a combatant held in continuing custody by an enemy power during or immediately after an armed conflict.  The earliest recorded usage of the phrase Prisoner of War dates back to 1660.  Between World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam, about 139,000 soldiers were held in prison camps where they were tortured, starved and beaten in sacrifice for America's freedom. 

From February 2008 to June 2010, 63 Veterans who were once missing are now accounted for, however, there are still more than 80,000 who are Missing in Action (MIA).  More than 200 of these are Floridians—most from the Korean War and Vietnam eras.    

Today, efforts continue to recover all those still missing so they can be properly laid to rest. 

During the Miami VA's event this year, the Missing Man Table and Honors ceremony paid tribute to those still unaccounted for and missing in action. Mr. Japhet Rivera, Acting Medical Center Director, was the event's keynote speaker. He praised the group's heroism and emphasized the VA's commitment to them. The Ex-POWs who attended—mostly World War II Veterans—also had the opportunity to speak, providing details about their capture and repatriation. And an emotional slide show captivated the audience, in fit homage to their sacrifice. 

In the end, the POW/MIA Story will not be completed until the last soldier, sailor, airman and marine is returned home.

"The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, is directly proportional to how they perceive the veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated"

-- George Washington


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