State Sen. Catharine Young, (R,C,I-Olean), Assemblyman Andy Goodell, R-C-Chautauqua, and members of the Vietnam Veterans of America Chautauqua County Chapter 459, are encouraging Chautauqua County residents to honor National POW/MIA Recognition Day today.
"Our nation's military and their families often endure the challenges of long deployments and the uncertainty of combat. Many families are faced with the difficulties of not knowing what happened to their military family members who have been declared a prisoner of war or missing in action. Years, even decades later, many service members' families still search for their missing loved ones. Whether it's a former prisoner of war who still faces the physical and emotional scars of captivity, or the family of a missing service member, they deserve our utmost respect and heartfelt appreciation. National POW/MIA Recognition Day provides an important opportunity to honor the sacrifices of these brave members of the military and their families," Sen. Young said.
"I am proud to honor the many men and women who served in defense of our country during the Vietnam War and other conflicts," Goodell said. "Almost 40 years after Vietnam, more than 1,600 veterans have not returned home and remain listed as missing in action. As a community and a nation, we must never forget these brave service members. As the father of a Marine veteran who served in Iraq, I have tremendous empathy for the parents, siblings, spouses, friends, and relatives of these missing veterans. Nothing is more heart wrenching than to have a child, sibling, spouse, or friend missing in action, without knowing what happened to them."
National POW/MIA Recognition Day was first observed July 18, 1979, and is now observed on the third Friday of September. On Aug. 10, 1990, Congress passed a law that recognizes the POW flag as a symbol of the nation's concern and commitment to the fates of all Americans still missing or unaccounted for in Southeast Asia.
The leading non-for-profit group chartered by Congress in 1978 is the Vietnam Veterans of America, which has worked to help Vietnam-era veterans and their families. The organization's goals are to promote and support the full range of issues important to Vietnam veterans, to create a new identity for this generation of veterans, and to change public perception of Vietnam veterans.
Those interested in finding out more about Vietnam veterans, both living, deceased or still unaccounted for, can visit www.vva.org. There are more than 600 local chapters throughout the nation that offer support to those in need and increase public awareness about the plight of Vietnam veterans missing in action. Young and Goodell have asked that concerned New Yorkers interested in honoring Vietnam veterans fly both the American and POW/MIA flags today.