ELIZABETH, NJ –Those soldiers who are missing in action or who were prisoners of war were remembered and honored today, September 16, in a ceremony on the steps of the Union County Courthouse, sponsored by the Union County Board of Freeholders.
“It is important to remember all those people who have given us so much for so many years. We have to honor them and their peers to let them know how important they are and have always been,” remarked Freeholder Vernell Wright.
After opening remarks from Union County Manager Alfred Faella and Freeholder Vice Chair Sergio Granados, Lieutenant Colonel Steven Brozak, USMC, delivered the keynote address.
“Although America now welcomes its returning and wounded veterans and does a lot to support them, our memories of the loss of thousands, tens of thousands of POWs and those counted as missing in action is fading.”
Lt. Col. Brozak then recounted his experience meeting former POWs, but he directed the main portion of his speech criticizing the Republican candidate for president. “Of course, everyone here knows another POW of some fame, Senator John McCain. To me, he serves as a reminder that the heroism of POWs must be defended from those who take it for granted, or worse, denigrate the lonely service.
“When someone says that John McCain is not a hero because he was a prisoner of war and that he likes people who don’t get caught that, Mr. Trump, marks you as a coward.”
He finished by saying, “Today, we honor and remember our POWs as the heroes they are and we thank them. They served their country, and our military is better because of their sacrifices and their example. We cannot forget them, and we can’t be silent if people forget that.”
The National Anthem was sung by Detective Kelly Rieder of the Cranford Police. The Honor Guard drew from the Union County Sheriff’s Office, Union County Department of Corrections, Union County Prosecutor’s Office, and the Elizabeth Police and Honor Guard.
The ceremony concluded with Taps played by Commander Alfredo Beltran of the Elizabeth Honor Guard.
“We have to see that they are never forgotten,” said Elizabeth Council member Manny Grova. “We can never forgot the importance of those who were POWs and MIAs, and their importance to our country.”