Like most things impacted by COVID-19, last Friday’s POW/MIA Ceremony at VFW Post 9362 was different — but the sentiment remained the same.

“We are assembled here to commemorate the commitments and sacrifices made by our nation’s prisoners of war [POW] and those who are still missing in action [MIA],” remarked Denny Antony, Post 9362 member and former quartermaster who served in the Army in Vietnam.

More than 81,900 men and women taken prisoner since the beginning of World War II, according to Antony.

“We must not forget the sacrifices these comrades have made, are still making, and the suffering they have endured for our way of life,” Antony told the small group gathered inside the post for the ceremony. “They must remain alive in our minds and hearts until we know they have returned home to their loved ones, or have been called to our Heavenly Father. We must continue to give moral support to their families who continue to suffer along with them.”

Katy Barber from VFW Auxiliary Unit 9362 reviewed the meaning behind the table set in the middle of the room inside the post that included a POW/MIA chair covering. “The table is round to show our everlasting concern for the missing,” Barber told the small group. “This table set for one is small — symbolizing the frailty of one prisoner, alone against his oppressor.”

Barber explained each item on the table having special meaning: a slice of lemon reminding attendees of the bitter fate of POW/MIAs, a pinch of salt to represent tears endured by the missing and their families seeking answers; an inverted glass to show they are not here to share a toast. “The chair is empty — they are missing,” Barber said, concluding with her description.

“May God bless our Prisoners of War, those Missing in Action and their families,” Barber added. “Let us remember and never forget their sacrifices. We also ask God to protect our men and women in uniform, keep them safe and their families strong. Thank you.”

As in past years, the POW/MIA ceremony concluded with the playing of Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA.”

The Sept. 18 ceremony is held each year at VFW Post 9362; for more information about the post, check out the post’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/VFW9362/ .

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