Bates: Honor Oregon's MIA-POW warriors this month
Friday, Sept. 20 is POW-MIA Recognition Day. This special day and the POW-MIA flag are symbolic of our nations resolve to never leave our warriors behind. Our armed forces will look for the missing until they are accounted for.
Sunday, Sept. 29, is Gold Star Mother's Day. A Gold Star mother is one who lost a son or daughter while serving their nation in times of war or conflict.
These two special days have a great deal in common. On Sept. 20 and Sept. 29, we should all stop and ponder the losses of our American families through the years. After all, these losses and sacrifices were made to protect our nation.
Over the years, about 1 million brave warriors lost their American dream so that we could live ours.
We should remember that:
All totaled, more than 130,000 American military personnel were prisoners of war in the 20th and 21st century wars; 184 from Oregon.
• About 7,500 warriors are missing from World War I, 19 from Oregon.
• 72,676 warriors are missing from World War II, 886 from Oregon.
• 7,634 warriors are missing from the Korean War, 56 from Oregon.
• As of July 26, 1,587 are still missing in Southeast Asia, 33 from Oregon.
Let us all keep these sacrifices at the forefront. That is the purpose of the POW-MIA flag. That is the reason there are monuments and memorials. The adage "Let us not forget" is appropriate.
We should support those who are working to help us not to forget. Yes, more monuments and memorials should be built. There is a shortage of memorials that specifically honor our Vietnam veterans.
In Salem, on state properties, one can find memorials and monuments that honor the veterans of every war except the Vietnam War and the Persian Gulf War of 1991. There are Vietnam War memorials in Portland, Canby and Newport, and a new memorial is under construction in Medford. Many communities have established memorials and parks that honor veterans from all wars.
The community of Boring dedicated a Vietnam War Memorial at its Boring Station Trailhead Park on Sept. 21, 2018, which was POW-MIA Recognition Day. A portion of the dedication ceremony included the raising of the POW-MIA flag for the first time over Boring. The dedication ceremony also paid tribute to Gold Star mothers and Gold Star families as the community honored 41 Clackamas County warriors who gave the ultimate sacrifice in Vietnam.
A group of Oregon residents is proposing a Vietnam War Memorial on the Oregon State Capitol Grounds. This proposed memorial will honor all who served during the Vietnam War era, regardless of their duty station. Special reverence for those who served in Vietnam and those Oregonians that perished in Vietnam will be included. Also, this memorial is planned to have tributes to all Gold Star families, Oregon's prisoners of war and those missing in action.
You can review the proposed memorial at vietnamwarmemorialfund.org. Contributions can be made by credit card on the website, or checks can be sent to Vietnam War Memorial Fund, PO Box 1448, Boring, OR, 97009.
Steve Bates is a life member of the Associates of Vietnam Veterans of America. He lives in Boring.
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