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POWs, MIAs remembered
6 POW-MIA pic1
JROTC Cadet Brice French lights a candle for prisoners of war and those missing in action during a service Friday at Veterans Memorial Park. - photo by Michele Hester Dawson Community News

A somber service was held Friday evening at Veterans Memorial Park to honor the nation's prisoners of war and those missing in action.

"We're here today to remember two sacred promises that should never be taken for granted or broken," said organizer and Vietnam veteran Dave Hildebrand. "To pledge our lives to support and defend this country is the first promise."

The second, he said, is a promise to leave no one behind in combat.

"Today, I want folks to know why we make this second promise to all our men and women overseas, how they can rely on this promise and how we honor their commitment."

According to current records, there are close to 88,000 American soldiers that remain unaccounted for from foreign conflicts.

"This number includes 78,000 from World War II, of which 43,000 were lost at sea and are considered unrecoverable," Hildebrand said.

Additionally, there are 8,100 soldiers missing from the Korean War, 1,683 from Vietnam, 120 from the Cold War, one from the Gulf War and three from Iraq and Afghanistan.

"We make the promise to never leave anyone behind because Americans overseas and in captivity depend on it for inspiration," Hildebrand said. "They are willing to pay the highest price for our freedom and do so with confidence knowing that if captured, injured or killed in battle our nation will make every effort to bring them home and they will never, ever be abandoned or forgotten."

As of Friday, nearly 900 missing in action soldiers, nationwide, have been located and brought home to their families.

"Honoring our promise to them is an obligation we have to them," said Hildebrand, who added he hoped gatherings like the service Friday could bring peace to those families.