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POW/MIA ceremony

The first POW/MIA recognition day program to honor veterans was held by the three Northampton veterans organizations Sept. 16. Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4714, Catholic War Veterans Post 454 and American Legion Post 353 sponsored the gathering at the borough’s veterans plaza, 14th Street and Washington Avenue.

POW/MIA National Recognition Day is commemorated on the third Friday of every September, a date not associated with any particular war. The day was established in 1979 by a proclamation from former President Jimmy Carter. The day honors the sacrifices of service members who were prisoners of war and those who served and went missing in action.

VFW Commander Larry Schlittler was the master of ceremonies of the solemn event. Schlittler said there are 81,000 unaccounted veterans of numerous conflicts. He noted they must never be forgotten.

The recently constructed bell tower at the plaza that houses a large bell was rung eight times. Each ring honored more than 10,000 missing veterans. After the bell toll, the national anthem was played.

CWV Commander Bruce Shellock reviewed the significance of items placed on an MIA table and the empty chair, signifying a missing veteran, that was draped with a black POW/MIA flag.

VFW veteran bugler Franklin Wolfel played taps followed by the recorded playing of “Amazing Grace” on bagpipes.

Schlittler closed the ceremony by thanking all who attended and restated that those honored at the event are not forgotten.

PRESS PHOTOS BY BILL LEINER JR. The symbolic MIA table is represented at the POW/MIA recognition program, held at Northampton's veterans plaza, 14th Street and Washington Avenue.
Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4714 Commander Larry Schlittler serves as master of ceremonies for a Sept. 16 event.
The memorial bell is rung to honor the 81,000 unaccounted veterans.