Unlike Memorial Day and Veterans Day, National Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Recognition Day isn't a federal holiday.
But that doesn't mean it's any less important, said Jack Hosey, of Elgin, who is organizing its 25th annual ceremony, scheduled Friday night in Carpentersville.
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National POW/MIA Recognition Day falls on the third Friday of September each year and Hosey, who started the local ceremony in 1987, wants to make sure this group of veterans is recognized.
"A lot of people, I don't think, are aware of this day but since they do have a national day set aside, we do hold a ceremony," said Hosey, a Vietnam War veteran and the POW/MIA chairman and chaplain at the Carpentersville Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5915. "I knew there were live American POWs left behind in Vietnam, in Korea and in World War II, and I thought this country should be aware of the sacrifices they've made for the freedoms we all share."
The post's ceremony begins at 6:30 p.m. and will be held at Veterans Garden within Carpenter Park. The hourlong program will involve introductions of several notables, including a pair of men who were prisoners of war in World War II.
Norm Zuckerman of Algonquin, was in the U.S. Army when he was taken and as a prisoner of war in Germany. And Don McCormick of Park Ridge, served with the U.S. Army Rangers when he was captured as a prisoner of war in Italy.
Organizers will also recognize the Huntley-based family of Lt. Col. Robert Joseph Panek of Chicago. He was shot down over North Vietnam in 1970 and listed as missing in action until his body was identified in the late 1980s.
Both Elgin resident Marylou Anderson and her late husband, Jerry, who was a POW in Germany, will also be noted. Jerry Anderson died last year and his wife is the secretary and treasurer of the Fox Valley Chapter of American Ex-Prisoners of War.
The evening includes an invocation and benediction from Deacon Donald Miller of St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church in Algonquin, an explanation of the POW/MIA flag, a candle lighting ceremony, patriotic songs and a discussion of how many veterans are still missing. Since World War II, more than 88,000 American soldiers are still unaccounted for, and Hosey says the ceremony is the least he can do to show respect.
"When I was fighting in the bush,I always knew if I was left behind, one of my brothers would be saying something about me," he said.