Ceremony Held to Honor POW/MIA Soldiers

Relieving Sherry Sivret from her post at the POW/MIA flag is Adjutant Patrick Dow. The pair were among the veterans that honored their missing comrades as part of National POW/MIA Recognition Day. (Photo courtesy David Sivret)

By Lura Jackson

 

Not every soldier makes it home: such is the reality of war. Sometimes, however, the confirmed death of a loved one would almost be preferable to the uncertainty of not knowing what happened to them. The 83,000 soldiers who are still listed as reported missing from conflicts since World War II were honored on Friday, September 15th in Calais with a ceremony conducted by VFW Post 9779.

The ceremony took place at the North Street city building parking lot, where a black POW/MIA flag was raised. Prior to the public ceremony, veterans took turns at standing watch at the flag, changing shifts with a respectful salute. The watch took place for two hours.

At 1:00 p.m., the public ceremony began with a presentation of the white table, a symbolic table set for missing soldiers since after the Vietnam War. Sherry Sivret conducted the reading, which included powerful statements that accompanied the visual performance appropriately. “The table is small, symbolizing the frailty of one prisoner, alone against his or her suppressors,” Sivret read during the presentation as her assistant, Father David Sivret, State Chaplain of the VFW, indicated the table itself. “You are not forgotten as long as there is one left to whom your memory remains,” Sivret said in conclusion.

After the presentation of the white table, a reading of The Other Side Of The Wall, written by Patrick Camunes, was given remotely by Chief of Staff Kevin Woodward. Woodward’s disembodied voice carried the imagined words of a soldier whose name was written on the Vietnam Memorial Wall and who sees their family visiting them. “Thanks for remembering!” called out Woodward emphatically at the conclusion, echoing the sentiments of those fallen and missing soldiers.

At that point, Father Sivret gave a speech that summarized the situation of how many are still missing and how the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency has been working to find those missing soldiers. According to the agency, there are still 478 missing or unaccounted for soldiers from Maine. “We must also remember the sacrifices of the families, who continue to grieve,” Father Sivret said.

 Following Father Sivret’s speech, a rose was ceremoniously placed on the white table by those in attendance for each branch of service, and taps were played.

Standing watch at the POW/MIA flag during a ceremony honoring missing soldiers on Friday, September 15th is Bill Gibson. Those present at the ceremony alternated turns standing respectful watch at the flag for two hours. (Photo courtesy of David Sivret)