Living in today’s America places burdens upon the average citizen that would have been unimaginable just decades ago. The demands of earning livings and raising families are significantly more stressful than in days past. Life itself, in a world in which communications are instantaneous and constant – whether from employers, family, or friends – is much more complex. With so much going on all the time, it is small wonder that few of us take the time to count our blessings and give thanks for the sacrifices of others that permit us to live in the land of the free and the home of the brave.
Yet, on the third Friday in September – this year, September 17th – some will do just that. For, on that day, Assemblyman Jack Conners, Chair of New Jersey’s Military and Veterans’ Affairs Committee, will host the Ninth Annual POW/MIA Remembrance Ceremony at The Merion in Cinnaminson, NJ.
With the support of the National League of POW/MIA Families, the ceremony will begin with a seated continental breakfast starting at 8.45 AM. Among the most solemn parts of the ceremony will be “The Missing Man Ceremony,” a moving salute to approximately 50 missing soldiers from New Jersey. Afterwards, a number of in-person or posthumous awards will be presented to various recipient in honor of their sacrifices for our country – lest we forget.
Anticipating the typical overwhelming response to this event, invitations were sent to veterans and veteran organizations throughout the state with an RSVP by August 18, 2010. As one who will be attending personally, I am reminded of the motto on the POW/MIA Flag – “You Are Not Forgotten.” This, as are all promises, is a debt unpaid and has been a driving force behind the efforts of Assemblyman Conners in remembering the sacrifices of those for whom this day was dedicated.
I would be remiss in not also bringing your attention to the government-sponsored program JPAC (Joint POW-MIA Accounting Command) whose mission is to investigate, analyze, recover, identify, and provide closure to the families of those heroes missing. The Command, based in Hawaii, was activated October 1, 2003 from the merger of the 30-year-old U.S. Army Central Identification Laboratory and the 11-year-old Joint Task Force – Full Accounting Command. It is manned by approximately 400 hand-picked soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Department of the Navy civilians. The Central Identification Laboratory of JPAC is the largest forensic anthropology laboratory in the world.
We all owe a debt of gratitude to men like Jack Conners that expend the time and effort in helping us remember the sacrifices of the brave souls whose actions evidence the real meaning of patriotism to those of us living in the greatest nation on the face of the earth, for sacrifice without remembrance is meaningless.