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Friday, September 21, 2012

POW/MIA DAY: You Are *NOT* Forgotten

Aloha,

There is a picture on my wall, next to a case of autographed baseballs.

It shows the smiling face of a young U.S. Army Major by the name of Dick Winters.

When people ask me who he is, and why he's there, I tell them that the stuff I collect from baseball stars is nice, but my heroes are people like Maj. Winters, the original C.O. of Easy Company (of Band of Brothers fame.)



In 2011, Maj. Winters passed away close to his family farm in Hershey, PA. The same, however, cannot be said for the 83,414 service members who are officially listed as Missing In Action (as of Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2012.)

Today is National POW/MIA Recognition Day, which is observed every year on the third Friday in September. It honors those who were prisoners of war and those who are still missing in action.


With events planned throughout the country, I think none will be more poignant than the one hosted by the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, to honor our Nation’s heroes at a special ceremony here on O'ahu. (Above is a two-minute video with an oversight of what JPAC does.)

Under the U.S. Pacific Command, with more than 450 joint military and civilian personnel, JPAC continues its search for the 83,414 Americans missing from past conflicts.

More than eighty-three thousand...

More than the entire city of Danbury, CT.

As we planned our wedding in 2004, my wife asked if I was OK with having a POW/MIA Missing Man Table at our reception.
I'd never heard of it, but once she explained the meaning of the table, I got goosebumps and immediately said yes.
If you've never heard of the POW/MIA Missing Man Table, here is an amazing three-minute video explaining it better than I ever could - especially on a day like this:




This coming Monday, I will post a special interview with Carol Reitmann Sumner.

On Dec. 1, 1965, her husband, then U.S. Air Force Cpt. Thomas Reitmann was shot down over Vietnam.

Forty-six years - and a lifetime - later, Carol received the call she never expected to receive in her lifetime. A stranger's voice, calling from Dover AFB, said, "Ma'am, we've identified remains of your husband."

I hope you can drop by Monday as Carol shares the final journey of Maj. Reitmann whose remains travelled from a field in Vietnam to Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.



Finally, do you have someone in the military?

Give them a hug or a call today. Tell them they are loved and appreciated. This one-minute video says it all, without saying a word...

 
 
 
 

23 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That is a lot of people still missing.
My father is retired military and served in Vietnam. I'll be sure to call him later today.

S.P. Bowers said...

That commercial made me cry. It's even worse when I'm at the airport and a troop comes home. I'm a blubbering mess.

Lea said...

Thank you so much for this post. My husband is with the USAF and we thank you for keeping us in your hearts.

Danielle B. said...

I knew exactly who Major Winter's is! I love love love Band of Brothers. I'm a huge war history "buff". I don't like war persay but I love to hear/read the stories of those that serves/served.

Thanks for the reminder! You post the best stuff!

Can't wait for Monday.

Libby said...

I think Monday is going to be heartbreaking, but I'll be here.

Samantha May said...

Thanks so much for talking about this! I have many family members that are in the military and I have nothing but the upmost respect for them!

I will definitely be here on Monday.

Miranda Hardy said...

So many POW/MIA, I hadn't realized.

I didn't know about the table either, but it's very fascinating.

Beth said...

Just curious, did your wife have someone missing? Or is she just an advocate for POW/MIA?

Mark Koopmans said...

@Beth: Hey, no one from our family is POW/MIA (thank God) but these special days honoring our military are dear to our hearts.

I just can't get enough of saying "thank you" to those who give up so much to keep us safe...

Melissa said...

What a touching post, Mark. I'm tweeting this.

Sheena-kay Graham said...

I salute you for doing this post. Military men and women aren't recognized enough.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Yes, I have and have had family in the military.

I dated a marine. He was captured and held for 6 years in Viet Nam. He returned but forever changed. There are several Documentaries that Richard appears in from the time he was discovered. The family, while overjoyed to find out he was alive, had problem with this new person changed by the fire of war and brutality.

He had dinner with the president and was feted and celebrated. But they couldn't give him back what he had lost. Or take away the memories of the horrors he went through. Still goes through in his mind.

Knowing the fate of our soldiers and loved ones...much better than not knowing.

Kudos to you for the Table. You and your wife have loving hearts and we need all of those we can get. :-)

Sia McKye OVER COFFEE

Anonymous said...

applause applause, thank you for sharing the pow//mia table that is so great... as a military mom I am so thankful that my son wasnt a pow/mia soldier, praise God he is home, great stories with and without words, I'd love to share this with my son when he comes home in October

Ciara said...

My father was air born, front lines in Vietnam. He was one of the few that survived, but not without the permanent scars of war. To this day, he will never forget the men he knew who's bodies were left behind.

Morgan said...

Beautiful post, Mark. My dad is a military man--so I have so much respect for all that they do...

We forget SO easily what is being sacrificed for us on a daily basis... :/

Kirsten said...

Thank you for this. (Even though you had me in tears!) It makes me proud to be an American, and even prouder of our military.
Though my words are my passion, I can never seem to find enough of them to describe how grateful I am to the men and women who make our world a safer place to live in.
I'll be back Monday!

Julie said...

I'd never heard of the Missing Man Table before. How touching!

I'm looking forward to your interview. I can't even begin to imagine the emotions Carol must have felt when she got that phone call.

Tamara said...

Beautiful post. My husband a close family friend are both ex-military. When I see something like the missing man table it makes me think of how easily things could have turned out differently and how much I have to be grateful for.

This post made me cry. Thank you so much for putting it up.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Mark - great post .. and thought. I'll be very interested to be back on Monday to read your post and interview with Carol - my mother lost her brother and first husband during WW2 ... exceedingly sad. Something we can't easily relate to unless we've experienced it ...

Thanks for posting .. and your blogfest looks enticing! Cheers Hilary

Lara Schiffbauer said...

POW/MIA's make me so sad. I can't imagine how hard it would be to never know what happened to your loved one. I saw a documentary on the Military channel once about the Bataan Death March and it broke my heart. The men who survived the march and made it home were amazing. Thanks for remembering. :)

Nicole said...

Beautiful! I always love your perspective on these days. I know several folks in the military, and they're always in my thoughts and prayers.

Looking forward to the interview on Monday.

Leigh Covington said...

This is so wonderful Mark! So many brave men and women fight for our country. It breaks my heart to think of those MIA or POW. Thanks for reminding us all of the sacrifices made for our freedom. :) This is very touching. I'm glad you shared.

Melanie Fowler said...

My brother-in-law is currently serving in Kuwait. It would be very difficult if he suddenly went MIA. I'm glad that there is a day to remember all of the soldiers who've gone missing. Thanks for telling us Mark.

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