Town to Install POW/MIA Chair at Town Hall Friday
Permanent display set to begin at town hall before moving on to other places in town.
The following was provided by Wakefield Veterans Services:
The town of Wakefield will install a POW/MIA Chair of Honor in town hall on March 15, 2013 at 3 p.m. While the permanent display will begin at Town Hall, it will be the first POW/MIA Chair of Honor in Massachusetts to “move” around the town to various prominent locations in order to spread Prisoner of War and Missing in Action awareness to all Wakefield residents.
“We wanted to create a visual display that reminded Wakefield residents that every freedom they enjoy is thanks to the more than 91,000 service members still serving their country as POW/MIA,” Veteran Service Officer Andrew Biggio said. “This display increases the Wakefield veteran population to include all of our heroes still fighting to ensure we are always free.”
Cities and towns across the state are placing these Chairs of Honor to recognize the POW/MIA population. Biggio made POW/MIA awareness one of his main priorities in 2013, partnering with Rolling Thunder Chapter MA1, an organization that aims to place a Chair of Honor in every Massachusetts municipality. Dozens of cities and towns have already agreed to place chairs to include installations in Saugus and Melrose earlier this year.
“What makes this POW/MIA Chair unique is that it will become a moving memorial,” Rolling Thunder MA1 President Joe D’Entremont said. “This Moving Memorial will be displayed in different locations around Wakefield so that all will be able to see and understand what it represents.”
The goal of installing and moving the Chair of Honor is to help keep the national promise to never forget those who continue to serve.
“Rolling Thunder MA1 hopes that the families of our POW/MIA's across the country will find comfort in know that Wakefield has not forgotten them or their loved ones who have yet to return home,” D’Entremont said.
The display entails a single black empty seat. The U.S. flag and the National League of Families POW/MIA flag will flank the empty chair. Only when all are accounted for will the display be retired. D’Entremont, Melrose-Wakefield-Saugus Veteran Services District Director Ryan McLane and the Wakefield Veterans Advisory Board presented the chair to the Wakefield Board of Selectmen in February.
Wakefield residents and area supporters are invited to attend the ceremony. Guest speakers will include local dignitaries, VSO Biggio and D’Entremont. The ceremony intends to continue a yearlong commitment by the Melrose-Wakefield-Saugus Veteran Services District to raise awareness of POW/MIA issues.
“Andrew continues to bring important veteran issues to the forefront in Wakefield,” McLane said. “By honoring all of our special population of veterans, we hope to encourage all of our brothers and sisters in arms to support veteran causes and claim the benefits their service warrants.”