They may be lost, but remembrance keeps their honor alive.


A single red rose for the blood they’ve shed, a lemon for their bitter fate, salt for their countless tears, an inverted glass for their absence, a white tablecloth for the purity of their intentions and a candle for the light of hope that continues to shine. Just a few of the symbolic items of POW/MIA day.

VFW Post 7288 and its Ladies Auxiliary in Calabash, N.C., have been honoring our country’s POW/MIAs every year since the early '90s.

“It’s important for us to pay tribute to those who cannot be here,” said Auxiliary Chaplain Joan Elemeier. “We want to keep their memories alive and give them the recognition they deserve.”

This year’s ceremony included prayers, a poetry reading, a tribute to the missing and an “empty chair” presentation during which the many symbolic items were identified.

“The ceremony was very emotional,” said Elemeier. “I had a hard time swallowing the lump in my throat. It was beautiful.”

For Pat Patterson, member of Post 7288 and former POW of WWII, the ceremony hit close to home. As he told WWAY News Channel 3 of Wilmington, N.C., “I can’t sit through these ceremonies and not think about all the fellas that have gone—my buddies.”

“Pat comes every year,” said Elemeier. “It’s a very emotional day for him, but he is always tremendously grateful.”

Thanks to the Ladies Auxiliary VFW, refreshments and snacks were served after the ceremony.

“The ladies just love baking, especially for a good cause,” said Elemeier.

Based on the success of this event, Elemeier hopes the POW ceremony will be an honored tradition for years to come. Continued appreciation will keep the memory of our nation's missing in action alive.

As Elemeier said, “Let us not forget. For they have surely not forgotten us.”



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