On the third Friday in September, all U.S. military installations stop for a moment to recognize National POW/MIA Recognition Day. It's set aside for Americans to remember to stand behind those who serve our country and to honor those who have not returned.
"Today is about a remembrance and never forgetting those who have gone on before us," said guest speaker, Capt. Bert Zeller, "either as a prisoner of war or they are still missing in action in whatever war that they might have been."
Other than the American Flag, the POW/MIA Flag is the only other flag to have flown over the White House, and it has done so on this day since 1982.
For those lucky enough to have made it home, the flag is a reminder of a promise made to those unaccounted for. That promise is to bring them home, no matter what.
"Because every American serviceman through the years has been promised they will be brought home no matter what, we have all been told that forever you are important. Your life is important and your personal possessions, your body, everything is important and we will bring you home at all costs," said Zeller.
During a Friday ceremony, Capt. Zeller told the stories of several local former POWs who were lucky enough to make it home. Two of the three men spent over 4 years as prisoners of war. One, in World War II, was held captive by the Japanese, the other as a resident in the infamous Hanoi Hilton in Vietnam.
"A lot of the time we get carried away with a lot of the national stuff that goes on. But we have a lot of folks right here in Meridian that are POWs and probably some that are still missing in action," Zeller said. "I just wanted to make sure their names were mentioned today so we can honor them."