PALMDALE –About 40 people came out to Poncitlan Square Saturday to pay homage to the nation’s prisoners of war and those missing in action.
The somber, 45-minute ceremony was hosted by the Antelope Valley Service Organization Association and including the singing of the National Anthem by Bobby Breech, a Table of Honor presentation by Major Conrad Hernandez and the Highland High School AFJROTC, and remarks from Council member Tom Lackey and veterans Dan Kirmel, Rebecca Brown and Dennis Anderson.
“Some of our active military never come home to their families and their friends,” said Brown. “This is the day that we reflect back and thank them for their ultimate sacrifice.”
“I think, within my heart, the majority if not all of those great heroes understood that sacrifice and they were proud to make,” Lackey said. “It’s a shame that we don’t have more people here to pay tribute and honor to those folks.”
Kirmel said National POW/MIA Recognition Day must serve as a reminder for Americans to do three things.
“One, remember our responsibility to stand behind those who serve our nation; two, honor family members who have made great sacrifices for our country; and three, to recommit to do everything possible to account for our sons [and] our daughters who have not returned to American soil,” said Kirmel.
Anderson told a story about Keith Maupin, a 20-year-old soldier captured in an insurgent ambush at a Bagdad airport in 2004, whose death was confirmed in 2008. Anderson said he was at the Bagdad airport during the time of the explosion and ambush.
Anderson also spoke of Bowe Bergdahl, the 26-year-old Army soldier in captivity since 2009, when he was captured by the Taliban.
“We are all connected to one another, so while there are people remembering somebody like Bowe Bergdahl and remembering someone else like Keith Maupin, that’s means they aren’t gone,” Anderson said. “I think that’s the importance of these ceremonies.”
“You are not forgotten, for the sacrifice, for the pain, for the hardships you suffered…” said Kirmel. “May God bless each and every one of them.”