By Dorothy Meindok
The Post Newspaper Veterans Consultant
September is a very special month that touches veterans in so many ways. Today we will cover two of those very significant events for the veterans community.
This past Monday, for veterans and our entire nation was the remembrance of 9/11, a tragic day our great country was attacked in four locations by terrorists, using aircraft as bombs to complete their suicide missions. The coordinated attacks of the 19 terrorists hijacked commercial airliners and flew those planes into the twin tower World Trade Centers of New York City and our Pentagon Building in Washington, D.C., our nation’s capital. The fourth plane, which is believed to have been headed for our nation’s capital was crashed, due to the intervention of Americans aboard the flight, in Pennsylvania; the American heroes that lost life their lives on that flight thwarted the terrorists mission, sacrificing themselves and likely saving thousands more innocent compatriots. When all was said and done, almost 3000 innocent American lives perished leaving family and friends and our country to grieve and respond to the act of war. The attacks on September 11, 2001, began and decades long war on terrorism between the United States, her Allies, and the enemy. At once, Americans did what all resilient Americans do best, we UNITED and faced the enemy together; military, civilians, first responders, Democrats, Republicans, Green Party and everyone in between put aside the frivolity of personal politics and joined in defending our nation to support each other and the heroes that served the common goal: our American way of life. Remembering this tragic day may seem morbid to some however it is in that remembrance that we can also be reminded that it is okay to love our country, each other and support our military & civilian servants that work each day to preserve our way of life here in America, despite our intra-country differences. We are a family, and we can (and must) choose to “Never Forget” those that perished and their loved ones while holding them in a special place of honor within our hearts, minds, and prayers.
This brings me to the next day of remembrance in September for lost but never forgotten heroes, POW/MIA Day. This takes place on the 3rd Friday in September, annually. The day was established and proclaimed in 1979 by President Jimmy Carter. This day marks a day to remember and pay tribute to those that have fought in all wars who were prisoners of war (POW) and those that have served but have not returned home and are considered by the Department of Defense as “missing in action” (MIA). The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency indicates that more than 81, 600 Americans remain “missing” from WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Cold War and Gulf War with numbers climbing from subsequent wars since the Gulf War, such as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan borne of 9/11. Further, it is believed that 38,000 of those still missing may be recoverable and may finally be laid to rest on home soil, here in America where their loved ones have been waiting for them.
Many are under the impression that our country no longer has POW/MIA but Congressional Research Service reports that 37 POWs were imprisoned since 1991 beginning with Gulf War I, however, none are known to still be in captivity. Technology has helped in great way of helping in this effort to return our warriors home. In WWII there were 130,721 known POWs with a death toll among them at 14, 072. In the Korean War 7,140 POWs are known with 2,701 of them dying. The war in Vietnam had 725 POWs imprisoned with 64 who are known deceased. Again, Americans and service members along with our Defense POW/MIA Agency remembers and remains relentless in mission to stand accountable and to do whatever is necessary to bring our troops home, where they belong.
September helps us keep our promise to those innocents, those defending us in war and from terrorism that we will “Never Forget” no matter how hard it might be for us. It’s heavy and emotional for certain, but we will keep our promise. Remember them all with love and gratitude and extend kindness to their survivors and loved ones. Please also know, that anniversary dates like this can be triggering so if you find yourself in crisis, or know someone in crisis, honor the sacrifice of all our warriors by picking up the phone & dialing 988 for help.
We’ve lost too many as it is and you are not alone.
Dorothy Meindok is The Post Newspaper’s Veterans Consultant. Ms. Meindok served her nation in the United States Navy and is currently a practicing lawyer advocating for our nation’s veterans. Her column appears on Sundays.