STEUBENVILLE - Over the years, many families have experienced the joy of embracing a loved one returning from military service abroad.
Still others have experienced the grief of attending the funeral of a loved one who paid the ultimate price while serving his or her country.
But thousands of others have experienced neither relief nor closure because their loved ones are among more than 83,000 Americans who have been declared missing in action.
MISSING SOLDIERS REMEMBERED — AMVETS Post 275 and the Vietnam Veterans Support Group observed National POW/MIA Recognition Day with a short service Friday at the Louis and Sandra Berkman Amphitheater. Names of 63 American servicemen, dating from World War I to the present, who were repatriated last year were read, and prayers were offered for the families of those who are still missing. Participants included, front: Post 275 member Joe Douglas; and back, from left: Dan Wilson, post commander; and fellow post members Bill Demjan, Matz Malone, Bryan Felmet and Bob Cowles. Austin Jones, a member of the Vietnam Veterans Support Group; and Schelley Brooks, service officer for the Jefferson County Veterans Service Commission, also participated. -- Warren Scott
Members of AMVETS Post 275 and the Vietnam Veterans Support Group and others gathered Friday at the Louis and Sandra Berkman Amphitheater at Historic Fort Steuben to remember them and the many who were held captive by enemy forces during various wars in observance of National POW/MIA Recognition Day.
Schelley Brooks, service officer for the Jefferson County Veterans Commission, noted the occasion isn't a federal holiday, but it is a national observance designated by Congress.
In its first year, 1979, it was observed with a ceremony at the National Cathedral in Washington and a special formation flown by the 1st Tactical Squadron from Langley Air Force Base in Virginia.
Now designated as the third Friday in September, it has been observed in various ways throughout the nation.
Members of AMVETS Post 275 and the Vietnam Veterans Support Group observed it by reading the names of 63 American service members, dating from World War I to Iraq, for whom an official account wasn't available until September 2011.
Dan Wilson, post commander, said the missing service members' names and their stories can be found at the website of the Department of Defense's Prisoner of War Missing Personnel's website at www.dtic.mil/dpmo.
"When you look at just the numbers, it's incredible," Wilson said of the many who still are missing.
Brooks noted AMVETS and other veterans groups have strongly urged government officials to account for all service members who were missing in action.
Members of AMVETS and the Vietnam Veterans Support Group offered prayers to the many families who await official confirmation of their loved ones' fates.
Patty Renforth of Brilliant, who was among area residents on hand, said she understands the concern because a friend was killed while serving as a medic in Vietnam.
"I know it's a lot of people, but I pray that some day we'll find them all," she said.