The city of Melrose will establish a permanent POW/MIA display in Melrose City Hall on Jan. 22 at 7:30 p.m.
The effort, sponsored by Melrose Veteran Services, Rolling Thunder Chapter MA 1 and the Melrose Veteran’s Advisory Board, aims to help keep our commitment to the more than 91,000 U.S. soldiers still unaccounted for as Prisoners of War or Missing in Action.
Melrose is home to LTJG Carleton P. Miller Jr., a Vietnam Veteran whose remains are still unaccounted for after his F4J Phantom fighter aircraft was lost off the USS Ranger 70 miles east of the North Vietnamese city of Ron. Jan. 6 marked the 42nd anniversary of LTJG Miller’s sacrifice for his country.
Cities and towns across the Commonwealth are establishing these empty chair displays as a renewed commitment to the soldiers and families whose heroic commitment to their country continues indefinitely. Our district joins in this effort and promises to never forget.
The display entails an empty seat demonstrating the city’s commitment to never forgetting that the battle is not over for many veterans and their families. The U.S. flag and the National League of Families (NLF) POW/MIA flag will flank the empty chair. Only when all are accounted for will the display be retired. City flagpoles also display the NLF flags to help spread awareness and support.
Melrose residents and area supporters are invited to attend a brief ceremony unveiling the display. The night intends to continue a year-long commitment by the Melrose-Wakefield-Saugus Veteran Services District to raise awareness of POW/MIA issues and will feature guest speaker and Rolling Thunder Chapter 1 MA Joseph D'Entremont.
D'Entremont and Rolling Thunder have done a tremendous job spreading POW/MIA awareness with dozens of communities slated to install a Chair of Honor in the coming year. Additionally, Rolling Thunder has been instrumental in the effort to install Chairs of Honor across the Commonwealth to include Gillette Stadium earlier this year and an expected installation at the TD Garden in 2013.
“Since 2003 Rolling Thunder MA1 has spread awareness and has helped educate the public that many American soldiers were left behind after all previous wars,” D' Entremont said. “91,803 U.S. soldiers remain missing since WWI. It is our mission to remember these soldiers and their families and to make sure Americans everywhere remember them. We have teamed up with veterans service officers and town (and city) governments around the Commonwealth to place Chairs of Honor in the name of all our POW/MIAs. We should not rest as a Nation until we have accounted for every single missing Soldier. We are proud to partner with the Ryan McLane and Andrew Biggio in honoring our POW/MIAs in the towns of Saugus (and) Wakefield and (the city of) Melrose. You are not forgotten.”
District VSO Andrew Biggio initiated this awareness campaign on National POW/MIA Day by holding a remembrance ceremony in the Wakefield Town Center on Sept. 21, 2012. The district plans to continue holding the event annually in Wakefield. The campaign continued in December when Saugus Town Hall became one of the first municipal buildings in Massachusetts to establish a permanent display. Wakefield will become the third town in the district to establish a display in February.