“It’s a reminder there are still people out there who are prisoners of war, who are missing in action … from every war,” said CSM Richard Weik, president of the Fort Benning Sergeants Major Association, July 28 during the groundbreaking for the POW/MIA memorial.
The monument, a black granite rectangle inscribed with the image of the POW/MIA flag, currently resides at the former Infantry museum on Baltzell Avenue. It will move to its new location in front of the National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center in time for the POW/MIA ceremony in September.
The purpose of the memorial is to provide solace for family members and to “honor the sacrifice of our nation’s POW/MIA Soldiers who didn’t return and may never be fully accounted for,” said CSM(R) Sam Rhodes, secretary for the Sergeants Major Association.
“The families of POWs and Soldiers who are still missing in action … it really gives them some closure for what they’re going through every day,” he said. “Just not knowing the whereabouts or condition of a Soldier missing in action or known to be captured exacts a terrible toll on (the) family and loved ones for a lifetime. Soldiers must know when they go into combat they will never be forgotten.”
Although the Sergeants Major Association raised money for all three identical monuments located in the tricommunity, CSM(R) Matt Walker, committee lead for the relocation, said it’s not about them — “we just happen to be lucky enough to sponsor it.”
“Families come down to … these graduations and we want this to be a part of it,” he said. “That’s really what it’s all about.”
When completed, the wheelchair-accessible memorial will include a sidewalk that creates a more direct route for families walking from the parking lot to the parade field for graduations.
For information about how to help support the relocation of the POW/MIA memorial, contact Rhodes at firstname.lastname@example.org.