POW/MIA Recognition Day – The Twentieth Anniversary Of The NJ S.A.L. POW/MIA Watchfire

Today is National POW/MIA Recognition Day.

The Sons of the American Legion, Detachment of New Jersey held its twentieth annual fireside vigil at the beach last week. Its flames are symbolic history’s beacons for the lost. It serves as a visible reminder of 73,000 American POW/MIAs’ plight.

The watchfire bonfire lights the way for our missing. It follows the tradition of the one described in The Battle Hymn of the Republic:

I have seen Him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps,

They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps;

I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps:

His day is marching on.

These words of hope remind us that God is with our prisoners of war, our missing in action. Our POW/MIAs remain with us in spirit. We ask that all Americans acknowledge what they have guaranteed for us – freedom.

2010 NJ S.A.L. POW/MIA Watchfire Pic 1

2010 NJ S.A.L. POW/MIA Watchfire Pic 2

2010 NJ S.A.L. POW/MIA Watchfire Pic 3

September 17, 2010, the ?third Friday in September, is POW/MIA Remembrance Day. Remember our prisoners or war and missing in action and work for their accounting and their return. Fly the POW/MIA flag in national observance of POW/MIA Recognition Day. It is a fitting tribute to the courage and sacrifice of our military.

Here is some footage from this year’s Watchfire.

There’s also fire burning 365 days a year at NJWatchfire.com.

50 thoughts on “POW/MIA Recognition Day – The Twentieth Anniversary Of The NJ S.A.L. POW/MIA Watchfire

  1. As always a wonderfully organized and executed event which is the very least we can do until the last POW/MIA returns home.

    1. Dear Steve,
      Thanks for your words of support and thanks for your help as well. Dedicated people like you make things like the Watchfire possible. The POW/MIA cause needs the continued commitment of people like you.

  2. I was able to attend and the SAL did and outstanding job on this 20th year..Makes me very proud that I’m a duel member..keep up the great work and always remember never forget…Thank you SAL………
    Paul E Zimarowski Sr
    Burlington County

    1. Dear Paul,
      We thank people like you for your commitment to our vets and their families. Your commitment and support over the years helps the cause of POW/MIAs.

  3. We were fortunate not to have any members of our long-standing military family become POW/MIA but we pray for those that have and for a return of those missing. Thank you for all your efforts.

    1. Dear Holly,
      Were there never to be any POW/MIAs or even better no wars. Let us take the pages of history and learn from them. Let us know that our country would not be if it were not for all the brave men that fought for it from its beginnings. Let us remember the sacrifices of our Armed Forces and pray for all our POW/MIA’s even those long gone with families and loved ones long gone.

    2. Dear Holly,
      Were there never to be any POW/MIAs or even better no wars. Let us take the pages of history and learn from them. Let us know that our country would not be if it were not for all the brave men that fought for it from its beginnings. Let us remember the sacrifices of our Armed Forces and pray for all our POW/MIA’s even those long gone with families and loved ones long gone.

    1. Dear Jenna,
      The value of our service men and women has been grossly underrated. Their lives are on hold while they protect our country and keep it free. We must not forget those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. Pray for them and their return.

    1. Dear Jennifer,
      Thank our soldiers whenever you see them. They like that. Pray for the POW/MIAs. Since most of those missing and unaccounted for go back to the 60’s and earlier, probability is they are dead. However, I know their loved ones would like to know. Pray for this and them.

  4. This is an excellent reminder post. I’ve been a member of the American Legion Auxiliary (Glen Crosby Unit 165 in Mississippi) since I was about 8 years old, eligible through the service of my father and grandfather. I am so grateful that I “grew up” around these men and women who served our great nation. Their stories are truly amazing. Our generation has so much to learn about the sacrifices they made.

    Remembering all of our POW/MIAs today especially.

    1. Dear Mandy,
      Our generation needs to reconcile the cost to POW/MIAs of their service against political expediency. Were it not for their fighting to protect a way of life, America would have lost so so much more. Russia fell. We to tell about our war heroes and war stories more to teach our fellow Americans the price of liberty is NOT free.

    1. Dear Lisa,
      I thank God that my son served safely for five years. I have to admit every time I heard of a military mishap I feared for him. Many times it involved others close to hi. You could see the anguish on his face and hear it in his voice. The armed force men and women do not choose how and where they serve. They are under orders. I was lucky while many were not. The POW/MIAs and their loved ones deserve to be brought back home.

  5. What a wonderful tribute Val. You should be proud of your dad for organizing such a beautiful dedication! I’m like Lisa, I didn’t know there was anything like this for our MIA/POW’s! This is fabulous and I am so honored you shared it with us! ;D

    1. Jenn,
      As hubby’s wife and Val’s mother, I can only thank all the people who work day in and day out advocating POW/MIA return for all they do. Long ago I didn’t know what a watchfire was. I learned it is the guiding light to show the path home. Let’s hope they all find it soon.

  6. All of the men on both my husband’s and my sides of the family have served so vetrans causes are close to our hearts.

    Thank you for for sharing this observance with us.

    1. Dear Robin,
      Veterans understand even though they may never speak of the evils of war. We must be the voice of the POW/MIAs until they come back home. We must remember them as they live on through shared ones.

    1. Dear Karen,
      When I first heard the narration, its effect was chilling and I cried. As a matter of fact I still do. The Armed Forces of the USA need to be recognized for their sacrifices. POW/MIA’s and veterans is synonymous with them in the end. Working on next year’s tribute already.

  7. Beautiful post and amazing tribute! I couldn’t imagine the pain of loving or even being a POW or MIA. Thank you so much for helping to bring this to light!

    1. Dear Eve,
      People like the League of Families and the American Legion Family believe in repatriating our POW/MIAs because it is the only thing to do. It is right for them, those who came back home, and their loved ones. America must send the message that we stand behind our military and will never abandon them.

  8. I had no clue about this, what an amazing thing to do. My heart goes out to all the families who have lost a loved one or who is missing one……god bless.

    1. Dear Nickol,
      It is fortunate that our country no longer allows its government to forget and presses for a full accounting of every soldier. It is good for them, their families, and the country. It would be deplorable to turn our back on those who gave all for us here safe at home.

  9. It is an amazing way to honor those who have done so much for our country. Saying a prayer for all those affected. Thanks for sharing about POW/MIA Recognition Day.

    1. Dear Staci,
      Supporting the veterans and their families is what service groups are about. Helping our warriors who cannot help themselves is what we should do. War is ugly and frightening yet how much more ugly and frightening would it be to abandon our own good samaritans who served and gave all.

  10. What a beautiful way to remember the POW and MIA Pat! It was very touching! I had some uncles at Pearl Harbor when it was attacked. I believe they survived, but I’m not too sure. I will have to ask my mom.

    God bless all of the soliders out there. SO sad that they never made it home. 🙁

    1. Dear Alison,
      The true tragedy of war would be forgetting what their lives gave us–our rights and our freedoms. I bless them and pray for their return.

    1. Dear Julia,
      I believe God watches over them. Pray for our forces and their families. And thank those who are serving and have served. Words can truly mean a lot.

  11. I had no clue that they even did the watch fires or that there is a day for the POW/MIA. I think that is awesome that they have a day that is in memory for those of POW/MIA. Guess it shows you are never to old to learn something new.
    May they find the light and be able to return home soon. God Bless All

    1. Watchfires are not common nowadays. Permits, insurance, and logistics come into play along with loads of work. It’s all about honoring and remembering them and their sacrifices. Without our vets–and POW/MIAs are that–our freedom would not withstand the enemy forces.

  12. I come from a military family. My father is a wounded vietnam veteran. I’ve heard terrible stories, but the one thing I can’t fathom, is being POW. Being captured and who knows what. It’s just scary and heartbreaking. I pray for all of these people and your post reminded me just how precious coming home can really be, even if you come home wounded. I’m lucky to have my father here with me every day.


    1. Dear Lee,
      A few years back a man who had been kept in a cage came. The experience made me understand the suffering and pain, both physical and mental, a little. Our army, navy, coast guard, marines, and airforce need America behind them no matter whether or not each individual believes in war. The soldier follows command and does not choose for himself.

  13. This is such an amazing thing that they do. I can’t imagine losing a loved one to war, let alone having them captured or missing and not having any closure.

    My husband is retired from the Navy and a good friend is active duty Army and due to return to deployment in Iraq. We need to remember to pray not only for the ones who are currently fighting but those who have served and are missing. We can’t simply abandon hope, what message does that send to their families?

    Seeing those images is truly inspiring.

    1. Dear Kim,
      I still remember the soldier I never met who during WWII parachuted out over Germany and was clubbed to death when he came down by the people not the military. It left scars on Uncle and Tante, his father and, of course, the whole family. He didn’t come home. They couldn’t move on. America needs to remember and work for a full accounting so this does not ever happen again. Our vets and their families need to know we value them.

    1. Dear Nolie,
      I pray that with you. In many countries the situation of POW/MIAs is worse. The government sets policy. America has many, many thousands unaccounted for since WWI. I knew there were others as well. How many? Too bad that more of this is not told to the pubic when government wants to cut the military budget and cut VA benefits.

    1. Dear Jen,
      Hubby has been to every watchfire in New Jersey. This makes #20. He truly believes in God and Country and tries to live that belief in all he says and does. Our Armed Forces’ sacrifices are what gave us freedom. We must work for them all and never forget. We must remember always our POW/MIAs and strive to bring them home. They deserve that and more.

  14. What a wonderful way to remember POW/MIA soldiers! I had no idea today was Remembrance Day or that those were some of the lyrics to the Battle Hymn. (I was always horrible with History)

    1. Dear Paula,
      It is a national observance with flags to be flown at half mast. It is not a national holiday although our military deserves that and so many more honors. That verse of the Battle Hymn reflects the Civil War era. God and country are what America should be about. I pray our POW/MIA’s can receive a full accounting. They and their loved ones need that.

  15. See? I learned something new today! I didn’t know that it was POW/MIA recognition day. I think these people deserve more then just recognition on one day! My dad is in the Canadian Navy, so, I know a lot about the military history HERE, but I’m still learning about “overseas” 😉

    1. Dear Cheryl,
      Americans and Canadians share a lot of the same values including the love of country and rights of its citizens. Some forget that early in WWII Americans went to the north to enlist because the USA still was not officially at war. I hope that your country values your POW?MIAs and works toward their return. It really doesn’t matter how long ago it was. Closure is important for people to move on.

    1. Dear Val,
      The watchfire is important because it shows our love and respect for our soldiers. Their sacrifices protect us daily. People forget that the US is in the tenth year of its war on terrorism. Those fighting for our way of life need to know Americans are committed to them at home and overseas. We pray for their safe return. They need to know we will never forget and abandon them the way it was back when.

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