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New POW/MIA Memorial Highlighted at the State Capitol

November 11th, 2021 by Jake Stofan
Hundreds lined the streets near the State Capitol Thursday for the annual Veterans Day parade.
At the end of the route is the Florida Vietnam Veterans Memorial and this year a new addition to the memorial made its debut.

This year’s Veterans Day Parade at the State Capitol was in many ways like those in year’s past, but this year there was a special focus put on service members still missing in action or taken prisoner of war.
“There are 54 Vietnam Veterans from Florida unaccounted for,” said Retired US Army 1st Lieutenant Stephen R. Winn.
A ceremony was held recognizing the multi-year effort to erect a new memorial, designed after the POW/MIA Memorial Bracelet across from the State Capitol grounds.
“A bracelet that represents the folks, MIA’s, POW’s who didn’t make it home,” said Winn.
The POW/MIA Memorial Bracelet began during the Vietnam War, but has come symbolize service members of all wars whose fate may never be known.
The memorial was put in its final place earlier this year after two years of failing to get through the Legislature.
The POW/MIA Memorial came at no cost to tax payers. 

Funds for placing and maintaining the memorial were secured by the Big Bend Chapter 96 of the Vietnam Veterans of America.

“It was a long journey, well worth all the efforts, but when I drive by it now I just smile every time I see it,” said Joe West, President of the Big Bend Chapter.
And already, those like West who spent years fighting to secure the memorial a home, are seeing their efforts payoff.
“For even one person to just stop and look, read what the text is, how it came to be and what it represents. And it’s going to be there for generations to come. That’s a good feeling,” said West.
There are 80,000 unaccounted for American service members dating back to WWII.
While their remains may have never received a proper burial, their sacrifice will forever be commemorated by the memorial and in the hearts of those like West and Winn who fought alongside them.

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