TOWNSEND -- "I just think that the families of those who are still assumed missing, the families definitely deserve to know what happened ... They deserve to know the truth," said Betty Mae Tenney, president of the Ladies Auxiliary.
Townsend VFW Post 6538 and its Ladies Auxiliary remembered prisoners of war and those still missing in action at the annual National POW/MIA Recognition Day ceremony Friday night.
About a dozen people gathered at the Townsend Common to pay tribute to those whose whereabouts remain unknown, lighting candles and reading poems, as well as the names of those from Massachusetts who remain missing.
The VFW Post and Ladies Auxiliary donated a POW/MIA flag that was raised on the Townsend Common to honor and remember the missing year-round.
According to John Whittemore, Junior Vice Commander at Post 6538, thousands of Americans are still unaccounted for, including 1,897 from the Vietnam War, 3,150 from World War I, 78,750 from World War II and 7,997 from the Korean War.
Whittemore and Post Commander Russell Jobe read the names of the 39 Massachusetts residents who are still unaccounted for. Whittemore said he wears a wristband bearing the name of one of these individuals to remember him every day.
Attendees took turns reading poems, including "I am the unknown soldier" by Patricia O'Grady Parcells.
The poem reads, "I am the unknown soldier, with dreams you'll rescue me, and I am a man who understands, only death might ever set me free."
Jobe said Townsend's annual ceremony is a reflection of the importance of remembering those who don't return from war.
"The bottom line is they can't be forgotten. A lot of people gave their life for our freedoms, so that we can go to school ... to allow me to come home," said Jobe, who served in Iraq during the Gulf War.
"There are a lot of people still missing. When you start looking, there are a lot of people that we still hold to our hearts," he said.
By holding ceremonies such as this one, Jobe said he hopes to encourage young people to remember those who have sacrificed for their country.
"It's important to get the younger generation involved. The reason you're here and going to school is because of those people who never came back," Jobe said.
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