‘Day of remembrance’

Published 3:54 pm Sunday, September 23, 2012

Glenn Wardrop, VFW Chaplin, displays the POW/MIA flag Friday morning on Nashville Avenue.

Friday was officially POW/MIA Recognition Day, and the local chapters of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion saw to it that Atmore residents were made aware of the occasion.

Traditionally, POW/MIA Recognition Day is observed on the third Friday in September as a way to honor and remember United States soldiers who were, or continue to be, prisoners of war or missing in action. It is one of six days out of the year that Congress has mandated the flying of the National League of Families’ POW/MIA flag. Other approved days include Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day and Veterans Day.

Locally, the flags could be seen in a line near downtown along the intersection of Main Street and Nashville Avenue, where the VFW and American Legion were set up.

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“This is a day of remembrance,” VFW Commander Billy Gates said. “My father-in-law was missing in action, so it does have a personal connection to me.”

Gates said the local community has been receptive to the work the two groups have done to draw attention to a day often forgotten.

“A lot of people don’t know when POW/MIA day is, so it is the duty of VFW to keep that remembrance,” Gates said. “A lot of years VFW and American Legion didn’t recognize this day. I started this project last year. A lot of people thank us for what we do and trying to keep patriotism alive.”

American Legion Senior Vice Commander Jimmy Beck agreed that it is an important occasion to remember.

“I can’t say I personally know a POW, but I do know the stories,” Beck said. “We still have so many that never came home. We want all our veterans to come home from past wars. We haven’t forgotten.”

Members of the local chapters held the POW/MIA flag to serve as a reminder.

“It’s a simple way to hold a flag and bring attention to it,” Gates said.