Members of American Legion Post 441, VFW Post 5689, and VFW Auxiliary 5689 and citizens from the Intermountain Area came together on the evening of Saturday, September 15 at the Veterans Hall in Burney for a special ceremony to remember and honor prisoners of war and soldiers missing in action.
American Legion Post Adjutant Bob Boyce served as Master of Ceremonies. American Legion Post Commander Steve Sweet and VFW Auxiliary President Dee Covert were in attendance. Boyce read a heartfelt statement of support from VFW Post Commander J.P. Wheeler who was unable to attend because he was coaching a football game in Oregon.
The ceremony began with Presentation of Colors by the Honor Guard, staffed by Jim Arveson, Dennis Lopez, Herb McKinney, George Mathews, and Marty McAbee.
Lynn Bolen read a moving testimonial entitled “Behind the Wall.” The piece was written from the point of view of a soldier who had sacrificed his life in Vietnam. From behind the wall of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington DC, he recognizes his mother, his wife, and his son as they come forward to the wall to read his name and honor him. The son has grown and is now a decorated veteran himself.
Bolen was given a copy of Behind the Wall by a sympathetic Park Ranger when he visited the memorial. More than 3 million people died in the conflict in Vietnam from November 1, 1955 to April 30, 1975. Fifty-eight thousand American soldiers lost their lives.
Following Mr. Bolen’s talk, the Burney High School Vocal Ensemble sang God Bless America and America The Beautiful under the direction of Hugo Castro.
Past American Legion Post Commander Bill Baldwin and his wife Tina then displayed an Empty Table Setting as Boyce narrated the symbolism of the scene. Everyone raised a glass in honor of those who had made the ultimate sacrifice.
After the table setting ceremony, various pairs of veterans came forward to read the names of all 1,594 Vietnam POW/MIA’s.
During the reading, a meal of hamburgers, hot dogs and potato salad was provided as well as a red, white and blue cake decorated with the caption “We will never forget!”
After the reading of all of the names, buglers George Mathews and Hugo Chavez played Echo Taps.
“We will never forget!”