LAKE GEORGE The Lake George American Legion Post was filled to capacity Sunday June 3 as veterans from Warren and Washington counties gathered for their annual memorial service honoring U.S. soldiers missing in action and held as prisoners of war during all conflicts.
Normally held atop Prospect Mountain the POW/MIA ceremony was held in the Legion headquarters on state Rte. 9 due to forecasts of rain.
Color guards from various local and county organizations lined three sides of the legion hall, providing a formal spectacle for the dozens attending.
Gene Pierce of Warrensburg, who annually organizes the ceremony, noted that two area POWs attended the ceremony, rather than four in 2011.
These two were Harold Perkins, 89, of Clifton Park and Manuel Perez of Wilton. The duo laid a wreath of remembrance at the podium during the ceremony
Both were taken captive by German forces during World War II.
Perkins was taken prisoner in France and moved to Germany, and Perez was captured in Belgium during the Battle of the Bulge.
Guest Speaker Brigadier General Michael Swezey of the Army National Guard said that there are more soldiers classified as Missing in Action than many citizens might be aware of.
In the Viet Nam War alone, nearly 2,000 soldiers were shot down over the Ho Chi Min Trail, he said. Thousands of others met a similar fate in World War II and the Korean War.
He added that this week was significant, because in recent days, there was a new accord reached with the Vietnamese officials to account for those lost in conflict.
Pastor Ken Hedden said that many of the missing soldiers’ families, in the absence of closure over the fate of their loved ones, bore emotional scars for the rest of their lives.
“We pray for the families of those missing soldiers,” he said. “Lord, give them peace.”