POW Recognition Day reminder of vital sacrifices

Friday, April 8, 2016

Something important will be missing at next month's Memorial Day services in Memorial Park Cemetery in McCook.

We could always count on Willis Jones, fit and trim in his World War II Army Air Force uniform, standing at attention while taps played.

Jones, who passed away in October, was taken prisoner when his B-17 was shot down on his 26th mission over Germany, spending 13 months as a prisoner of war.

While Willis went to raise a family and enjoy a long career with the Bureau of Reclamation, retiring in 1987, many Americans never came home.

From Vietnam, for example, those list includes Michael Steele Confer, McCook, Neb., USN, lost Oct. 10, 1966; Ronald Dean Stafford, Oxford, Neb., USAF, lost Nov. 21, 1972; Michael Lee Klingner, McCook, Neb., USAF, lost April 6, 1970; Daniel W. Thomas, Danbury, Neb., July 6, 1971; and Gerald Mack Biber, Benkelman, U.S. Army, April 22, 1961.

And that is only a partial list of those who were POWs or MIAs, especially when World War II is included.

We remember them on Memorial Day and Veterans Day, but Saturday is a special day set aside strictly for former American prisoners of war, those still missing and their families.

Gov. Pete Ricketts and Secretary of State John Gale has signed a proclamation designating Saturday, April 9, 2016, as POW Recognition Day.

As we watch the process of our democracy play out this election year, it's vital that we remember the sacrifices that make our system of government possible.

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