New Florida POW/MIA memorial awaiting Governor’s signature
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Between WWII, Korea, Vietnam and more recent conflicts, the fate of more than 81,700 American servicemen remains unknown.
During the Vietnam War an awareness campaign was launched, producing metal bracelets with the names of soldiers missing in action and taken as prisoners of war.
Those bracelets are the inspiration behind a new addition to Florida’s Vietnam Memorial.
On the dome of the Old State Capitol, alongside the US and Florida flag, flies the POW/MIA Flag with the words ‘You are not forgotten’.
“From World War II to today it’s over 80,000 people,” said Joe West, President of the Big Bend Chapter 96 of the Vietnam Veterans of America
West, a veteran of the Vietnam War, has spent the last three years working to establish a more permanent tribute to the men and women whose fate on the frontlines may never be known.
“The stumbling block we ran into was the legislative process,” said West.
The monument, already built and currently stored in a Tallahassee business, is modeled after metal POW/MIA bracelets that date back to 1970.
“That bracelet is a reminder that there’s just a lot of people that never came home,” said West.
It wasn’t until a government consultant offered to help on the project that it finally got the nod from the Legislature.
“He pretty much said ‘hold my beer, watch this’ and he got done in six weeks what we failed to get done in three years,” said West.
The legislation ended up passing the Florida House and Senate this year with unanimous approval.
The POW/MIA Memorial will be added to the existing Florida Vietnam Memorial, and it won’t cost tax payers a dime.
The Big Bend Chapter 96 of the Vietnam Veterans of America are picking up the tab.
“The idea is for people 30, 40, 50 years from now to understand what my generation did to keep our freedoms and what it takes to keep a country free,” said West.
The Governor has yet to sign the Legislation authorizing the POW/MIA memorial, but West said he’s been told it’s just a matter of time before he does.
West told us the hope is to have the memorial in place by in September 17th, for an unveiling ceremony on National POW/MIA Recognition Day.
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