When you look at the numbers of Missing in Action and Prisoners of War just from WWII through present day, I'm a kid. Maybe we all are kids.
We certainly sent our kids off to war. The boys came home as men, the girls as women, and the others......You mean there are others? Yes, the others. The others. The other kids we sent to war. They didn't come home. We left them there, in prisons captured by the enemies, missing and not found while on duty, lost at sea, who knows; BUT, we left them there.
No, not you and I. Not even their best buddy in the fox hole. You might think he's the one to blame, but he isn't. Not when your buddy takes the shot that kills within a minute and your friend is conscious maybe, just maybe long enough, to ask you to tell his wife he loves her and he's sorry...... And you're still taking fire and the command is to Move Out and there's no time to take the dead because you're being overrun. If they're lucky, you grab the living wounded over a shoulder as you run, pausing long enough to turn and fire several volleys at the enemy approaching. There is no time to think, just fight and run, try to maintain your ground, move forward again, the sweat dripping from your forehead, running down your rib-cage, your feet soaked from weeks in swampy jungles or days in dessert induced sweat with no dry socks in sight. You fight and you run and finally, there is a silence. All around you, silence. You look around and more of your platoon is on the ground, and behind you, so is the enemy. A few of your company is staggering around and a radio begins to crackle as the radioman, still alive, calls for a chopper to airlift you out, you and the wounded man on your back. You didn't know it at the time, but that wasn't all sweat you felt running down your forehead and your ribs. You were hit with shrapnel in the head and that was your own blood you'd wiped away. That wetness on your ribs? That was your sweat mixed with the young man's blood from his chest wound running down over your shoulder. You two share a chopper and as you start to fade into unconsciousness, you remember your buddy.....your buddy, in the foxhole, who loves his wife and is sorry he's not going home........
Our government left them there. They didn't let these boys-who-became-men go back and get their buddies, didn't let them go back and search for the ones on special missions who were missing, didn't let them go break out the ones captured and made into prisoners of war, didn't let them go look for any of them. It wasn't the individual soldier, airman, marine, guardsman, who left our people behind, it is our government.
Once per year our nation has a day set aside to remember our Prisoners of War and Missing in Action. It is called National POW/MIA Day and is scheduled for the third (3rd) Friday of every September. To this day, multitudes do not know of this day or why it exists. It is not a federal holiday. How can you call such a remembrance a holiday anyway? Nonetheless, it should be a required day off, for schools, for workers, and all non-life-essential occupations with large community services to make a loud voice that we want our service people HOME, dead or alive. Obviously, we want them alive, but if the worst happens, give our loved ones the dignity of bringing them home to their families and friends. Give their families that closure. Our children must be taught about those left behind.
Our government must do a better job of finding our missing and our foreign-held prisoners. Do not negotiate and make our country weak. Just find them and bring them home with strength, dignity, and honor of the US military and the countrymen and women who support them.
Too many people in this country are unaware of our missing and our prisoners and that must change! We have WWII veterans still alive in the U.S., does it not stand to reason, they can still be alive somewhere abroad? Clearly, the same applies to Korean and Vietnam veterans and more recent wars.
When the list of numbers appears below, a comparison will be provided so that you may have a better understanding of how many people have been left behind by our, by your, government.
This year's local ride brought many tears to my eyes, more so than some years. It varies for me. The first year, I think I cried the entire ride. Some years there are many tears, some years I just feel quiet and snap my photos as we go along without a blurry focus. How can you not cry when you see the people committed to raising a voice, to those who stand along the ride route holding flags, signs of support, and yelling, “Thank you!”? How can you not cry when think that the noise you make on that motorcycle and the quietness you embrace at the candle-light vigil, are both there to shout a mighty thunder to our government that we must NEVER FORGET and that we must BRING THEM HOME. The silence in the night at a vigil can be as deafening as the roar of hundreds of motorcycles on a ride. The goal of both is the same. NEVER FORGET.
Imagine if your husband, father, son, mother, daughter, sister, brother, uncle, aunt, had gone to war to fight for your freedom or the freedom of someone devastatingly oppressed......and he or she never came home? Imagine if you never knew why? They just disappeared....and your government can't or won't tell you why. Imagine. Look at these people today and feel blessed they are in your home, in your life, that they came home, and that they continue to come home. There are 82,666 families out there who do not have that luxury. They still wait.
82,666 families: 73,121 from WWII, 7,795 from Korean War, 1,618 from Vietnam War, 126 from the Cold War, 6 from Iraq and other conflicts. (Source: website: http://www.dpaa.mil/Our-Missing/Past-Conflicts/ for the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency)
82,666 unaccounted for persons from “recent” wars – do you comprehend that number? The U.S. Cities of Warwick, RI; Sioux City, Iowa; Ogden, UT; Tracy, CA; and Alhambra, CA all have populations ranging from 82,672 to 83,089 respectively. The number of Unaccounted-For-Persons just from WWII to present equals a modern day city population, a city you have heard of, not just a small town! We/our government/the USA have left behind the equivalent to the population of an entire city. This is not acceptable.
Why do we do ride and hold vigil? – Because those who have no voices, must be heard. Those 82,666 families deserve closure. Be a voice. Show support. Teach a child. Write to your congressmen and senators. Ask how you can help. Support your troops and local veterans organizations. Tell a veteran or active duty person “thank you” when you see them. (They won't bite, honest.) They fought for you. Fight for those they didn't get to bring home.