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New POW/MIA Memorial highlighted at Florida State Capitol

Published: Nov. 11, 2021 at 5:00 PM EST
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CNS) - Hundreds lined the streets near the State Capitol Thursday for Tallahassee’s annual Veterans Day parade.

At the end of the route was the Florida Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and this year a new addition to the memorial made its debut.

This year’s Veterans Day Parade at the State Capitol was in many ways like those in years past, but this year there was a special focus put on service members still missing in action or taken prisoner of war.

“There are 54 Vietnam Veterans from Florida unaccounted for,” said Retired US Army 1st Lt. Stephen R. Winn.

A ceremony was held recognizing the multi-year effort to erect a new memorial, designed after the POW/MIA Memorial Bracelet across from the State Capitol grounds.

“A bracelet that represents the folks, MIA’s, POW’s who didn’t make it home,” said Winn.

The POW/MIA Memorial Bracelet was first used during the Vietnam War and has come to symbolize service members of all wars whose fate may never be known.

The memorial was put in its final place earlier this year after two years of failing to get through the legislature.

The POW/MIA Memorial came at no cost to taxpayers.

Funds for placing and maintaining the memorial were secured by the Big Bend Chapter 96 of the Vietnam Veterans of America.

“It was a long journey, well worth all the efforts, but when I drive by it now I just smile every time I see it,” said Joe West, President of the Big Bend Chapter.

And already, those like West who spent years fighting to secure the memorial a home, are seeing their efforts pay off.

“For even one person to just stop and look, read what the text is, how it came to be and what it represents. And it’s going to be there for generations to come. That’s a good feeling,” said West.

There are 80,000 unaccounted for American service members dating back to WWII.

While their remains may have never received a proper burial, their sacrifice will forever be commemorated by the memorial and in the hearts of those like West and Winn who fought alongside them.

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