A reminder to remember those lost in combat

Edward Leonard

Do you know what day it is today? It’s Friday, the last day of classes, the start of the weekend and a day of relaxation for most people. It’s a day we look forward to every week so we can finally stop worrying about homework for the next few days, maybe go to a party with some friends, and generally enjoy ourselves

But today is special. This particular Friday is National POW/MIA Recognition day.

Today is one of a few days when Congress has authorized the infamous black and white POW/MIA flag to be flown — there are actually 6 days, including Independence day and Memorial day. Although it’s a Friday, it’s also a day of remembrance we should all observe.

Grace Leonard, a now-retired Major in the Air Force, worked for years in the Defense Intelligence Agency. Her job was to try to receive full accountability for all American service members unaccounted for. Some of these were still from Vietnam.

This was 20 years after the date they were reported missing.

“Family members [of service men and women] deserve to know what happened [to their loved ones] if possible … and service members need to know that their country will do everything in its power to receive a full accounting [of those missing].”

This office still exists, although now it’s directly under the secretary of defense. Today they are still searching for American men and women who went missing in every war since Vietnam.

We’ve all heard the horror stories about the treatment of American prisoners during Vietnam, how they were tortured and abused for information for years on end before being released, if they were released at all.

We’ve all heard similar stories from the more recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and sometimes even seen tapes of their prisoners as their captors make demands.

And then there’s the matter of those who will probably never be accounted for. They may have simply stepped on a land mine, and no remains could be found.

Whether or not you agree with our defense policies, there is no denying the hardships those in the service go through, many of them on a daily basis. Prisoners of war and those missing in action have seen the worst of the worst parts of war. They have gone through hell on earth for you, the citizens of America, and they’ve done it willingly.

Today there will be an honor guard posted in Gold Star Hall, as well as a run commemorating those who didn’t come home, among other events on campus. These are just some ways the ISU community is showing their support.

I’m not asking you to give up the happiness Friday brings every week. I’m not asking you to sit around this weekend and mope. But I would ask that you take a few seconds to think about what this day means.

Think about those who faced the darkest side of humanity so you can enjoy today.