Have you ever imagined how you would feel if a member of your family was captured in prison or was missing? How would you feel if you were the one who was captured and had no idea where you were, whether or not you would survive, or if anyone even knew about your captivity?
Frustration. This would be the perfect word to describe the feeling of many families and relatives of those who still remain as either prisoners of war (POW) or missing in action (MIA) from the battles of Southeast Asia. Not knowing the status of their loved ones is witholding many families from moving on emotionally and psychologically, and is filling their minds with unanswered questions that may never be answered.
According to the Defense POW/ MIA Accounting Agency, more than 9,400 U.S. soldiers are still missing from the Vietnam and Korean War. Many of the soldiers, who were eager to protect the countries by bringing peace and security, suffered as prisoners experiencing horrific tortures that we cannot imagine. Beyond this, the most frustrating situation would be not being able to step foot in the country they fought for, the United States.
Today, we hold a day for POWs and those who are MIA. The National POW/MIA Recognition day is memorialized across the nation on the third Friday of September. However, unlike Memorial Day or Veterans day, it has not received as much attention as it should. According to Deena Yellin’s interview with John Cooley, who fought in the Navy during Vietnam war, Cooley said, “…most residents said they had never heard of the recognition day before,” showing the lack of recognition by US citizens.
In order to commemorate the sweat and tears of those who have sacrificed their lives without recognition for years, Cresskill, New Jersey, is holding its sixth annual dawn-to-dusk vigil. Pairs of veterans rotate 30 minute shifts with taps every time a new pair of veterans takes over. People, including veterans from other towns, and relatives of veterans, came to lament at this poignant ceremony.
During the time of the Vietnam war, many adolescents applied to go to the war on their own to show support for their nation. As teenagers, they experienced all sorts of hardships and courageously gave their lives.
In an interview with JSR, Edward Wrixon, who is a veteran himself, said, “Most of the soldiers were 17 or 18 years old when they left their homes to fight the war. They gave their youth as well as their lives so that we, US citizens, can enjoy our own lives today. I think it is important that it is our duty, as one nation, to not forget what they gave up for us.”
Veterans today only ask for one thing in return, especially from today’s generation: acknowledgement and appreciation for the sacrifices the soldiers and veterans have made.