Former POW Larry Chesley was the Keynote Speaker. He is such an amazing man. He wrote the book "Seven Years in Hanoi" . He speaks with such a great love for his country and his testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I linked his name to a web site that has some of his "experiences" while at the "Hanoi Hilton".
As I listened to the different speakers, I could remember students in school wearing bracelets of family members during the Vietnam war. I remember my Mom going to the bus station to pick up my Uncle after the war and seeing him in his uniform.
After this ceremony was over and I saw so many old and young alike my heart ached that more attention was given to this National Day of Honor. (There were more people out to the football game the night before.) Some of these men are quite old and there is a good possibility that they will not be around next year.
Mr. Chesley made several comments in his speech that I have not been able to get out of my mind, the first was that war is always "good-vs-evil". No matter what your political ties may be. This my favorite and a good one for all of us~
"There is no such thing as a bad day when you have a door handle on the inside of your door" ~ The Honorable Senator Larry Chesley ~former POW
So here is some information that you might like to know:
The Capitol and the White House in Washington, DC,
The Korean War and Vietnam Veterans War Memorials,
Every National cemetery,
Any building containing the official offices of the Secretary of State
The offices of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs,
The offices of the Director of the Selective Service System,
Every major military installation,
Every VA Medical Center, and
Every Post Office.
The design for the MIA/POW flag was never copyrighted. It became a flag that belongs to everyone, a design that hauntingly reminds us of those we dare not ever forget. Behind the black and white silhouette is a face we can't see...the face of a husband, a father, or a son who has paid with their freedom, for our freedom. Beneath the image are the words....
You Are Not Forgotten
LET US REMEMBER THE MEN AND WOMEN PRISONERS OF WAR FROM ALL BRANCHES OF SERVICE THAT ARE TOO OFTEN FORGOTTEN. LET US REMEMBER THEM.
THE TABLE CLOTH IS WHITE, SYMBOLIZING THE PURITY OF THEIR INTENTIONS TO RESPOND TO THEIR COUNTRY'S CALL TO ARMS -- SO THAT THEIR CHILDREN COULD REMAIN FREE. REMEMBER.
THE LONE CANDLE SYMBOLIZES THE FRAILTY OF A PRISONER ALONE, TRYING TO STAND UP AGAINST HIS OPPRESSORS. REMEMBER.
(A cadet lights the candle)
THE BLACK RIBBON ON THE CANDLE REMINDS US OF THOSE WHO WILL NOT BE COMING HOME. REMEMBER
THE SINGLE ROSE REMINDS US OF THE LOVED ONES AND FAMILIES OF OUR COMRADES IN ARMS WHO KEEP THE FAITH AND AWAIT THEIR RETURN. REMEMBER
A SLICE OF LEMON IS ON THE BREAD PLATE TO REMIND US OF THEIR BITTER FATE -- IF WE DO NOT BRING THEM HOME. REMEMBER
(A cadet slices a lemon and places a slice on each bread plate)
THERE IS SALT ON THE PLATE, SYMBOLIC OF THE FAMILY'S TEARS AS THEY WAIT AND REMEMBER.
(A cadet shakes salt onto each bread plate)
THE GLASSES ARE INVERTED. THEY CANNOT TOAST WITH US TONIGHT -- MAYBE TOMORROW, IF WE REMEMBER.
(The cadets execute a slow bend at the waist and pick up the wineglasses to eye level. At the word, “INVERTED”, the Honor Guard members quickly flip the wineglasses upside down with a twist of the wrist. Then slowly bring down the wineglasses to the table inverted.)
THE RED, WHITE AND BLUE RIBBON IS TIED TO THE FLOWER VASE BY A YELLOW RIBBON THAT WAS WORN BY THOUSANDS WHO AWAITED THEIR RETURN. REMEMBER
THE FADED PICTURE ON THE TABLE IS A REMINDER THAT THEY ARE MISSED VERY MUCH AND ARE REMEMBERED BY THEIR FAMILIES. REMEMBER.
AS WE LOOK UPON THIS EMPTY TABLE, DO NOT REMEMBER GHOSTS FROM THE PAST, REMEMBER OUR COMRADES.
REMEMBER THOSE WHOM WE DEPENDED ON IN BATTLE. THEY DEPEND ON US TO BRING THEM HOME.
REMEMBER OUR FRIENDS. THEY ARE THE ONES WE LOVE -- WHO LOVE LIFE AND FREEDOM AS WE DO.
THEY WILL REMEMBER WHAT WE DO. PLEASE HONOR AND REMEMBER THEM.
(The Honor Guard executes a slow salute together. They hold it approximately 10 seconds after the music has ended. Afterwards, the members slowly order arms and the Honor Guard commander will call “POST” and the members will execute a Left or Right Face. (Whichever is more convenient). “Forward March” will then move the members out of the room in a slow fashion.)
SUGGESTED SCRIPT FOR RETIRING THE TABLE
(One cadet approaches the table ready to extinguish the candle. If the hats are to be retired as well, the entire Honor Guard should enter with one identified to extinguish the candle.)
AS CADET _______________ EXTINGUISHES THIS CANDLE, LET US TRANSFER IT'S FLAME TO OUR HEARTS -- AND REMEMBER.
(Cadet extinguishes the candle and retreats.)