YUMA, Ariz. (KYMA, KECY) - The American Legion Post 19 held a ceremony on Thursday honoring American service members who were prisoners of war and those who are still missing in action.
This day is typically observed on the third Friday in September.
According to the U.S. Department of Defense, more than 80,000 American service personnel are still missing from previous conflicts.
“It’s a solemn day, we’re here to reflect deliberately on service men and women who have served in confinement during combat, died in confinement, and also given their lives in combat and never been able to return home,” said Yuma Proving Ground Commander Col. Johnathon Nelson.
Some service members are not even adults yet.
“They were 17, 18 years old that went over there and gave their lives for our freedom,” said American Legion Post 19 Cmdr. Warren Quirk.
As part of the ceremony, there was a “missing man table,” honoring these veterans who are still with us in spirit.
“We dedicate a chair for that purpose along with a part of the ceremony is our table to show the tears, a candle, a light burning for them, to show them the way back home,” said Cmdr. Quirk.
Councilman Art Morales attended the ceremony and says although he is not a veteran, he’s committed to supporting the veterans in our community.
“It’s really important to understand the needs, and as a council member, what can we do to support out local veterans, and those non-profits that are doing outreach for the men and women who have served our country,” said Councilman Morales.
Yuma Proving Ground Commander Colonel Johnathon Nelson said he hopes more of the missing service members can return home soon.
“We still have efforts to this day to restore those remains to their loved ones. It’s still going on today," said Colonel Nelson.