Each flag placed in the wooden cross at Friday's POW/MIA ceremony at Fort Gordon represented a story.
Wayne Gooden placed four flags in memory of members of the Fourth Infantry Division who died in Vietnam in 1968.
Retired Command Sgt. Maj. James Hussey recalled the Rangers who died in Vietnam while he served there. Brig. Gen. Ronald Bouchard remembered his uncle, who was a prisoner of war during World War II.
"This begins the healing," said Lloyd Pate, of the Greater Augusta chapter of Amercan Ex-Prisoners of War, who placed the first flags in the cross.
Friday's ceremony was part of national POW/MIA Recognition Day, an event to remember those who were prisoners of war and those listed as missing in action.
''We recognize and remember the supreme sacrifices made in the defense of freedom," said Brig. Gen. Randolph P. Strong, Fort Gordon's commanding general, who served as the keynote speaker for the ceremony. "We have a debt to them and their families."
Since World War I, more than 250,000 American service members have been listed as missing in action or have been prisoners of war, he said.
The courage exhibited by former POWs provides today's soldiers with role models to emulate, he said.
"Every American service member accepts the possibility of losing their life and/or their personal freedom," he said. "(Liberty is) made possible by the personal courage of those who have gone before us."
POW/MIA Recognition Day is observed on the third Friday of September each year.
Reach Charmain Z. Brackett at email@example.com.
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