CONYERS — The Walk of Heroes Veterans War Memorial in Rockdale County will host its annual POW/MIA Recognition Day at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 14. The event recognizes soldiers who have been missing in action or were taken as prisoners of war.
Nationwide, the POW/MIA Recognition Day is always the third Friday in September. To accommodate the travel schedules of guests and speakers, The Walk of Heroes, in conjunction with the Georgia Vietnam Veterans/Legacy Vets Motorcycle Club, always holds its ceremony the Saturday before.
The United States has many kinds of heroes, but these POWs/MIAs and their families are a very unique breed. These ex-POWs have been through years of physical and mental abuse, sometimes torture, and their families have been put through the mental torture of not knowing if their loved one is alive or dead. The MIA families are still waiting for an accounting.
The keynote speaker is Air Force Colonel (Retired) Pat Blassie, the sister of a former Vietnam Unknown Soldier, USAF Capt. Michael Blassie.
At the May 28, 1984 Memorial Day Ceremony in Arlington National Cemetery, President Ronald Reagan spoke at the dedication of the placing of the Unknown Vietnam War Person into the The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. In 1996, evidence was found that pointed toward the “Vietnam Unknown Soldier” being Capt. Blassie, who was shot down on May 11, 1972. The remains were exhumed on May 14, 1998 and with advanced DNA testing that did not exist when he was placed in The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, on June 30, 1998, the remains were identified as Blassie. His remains were then reinterred at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in his hometown of St. Louis, Mo.
(For more information on Capt. Blassie and his journey, see A Veteran’s Story in the Sept. 1 and Sept. 8 editions of the Citizen, or online at www.RockdaleNewtonCitizen.com)
In addition to the ceremony, there will be a motorcycle ride from Falcons Fury Harley-Davidson, 900 Dogwood Drive in Conyers, to the Walk of Heroes. There will be a gathering celebration from noon until 1:30 p.m., with riders leaving Falcons Fury at 2 p.m. The ride will be led by the Vietnam Vets Legacy Vets Motorcycle Club, and is open to all veterans, veterans groups, motorcycle clubs, and the community.
Parking and admission to the POW/MIA Recognition Day at the Walk of Heroes Veterans War Memorial is free. The memorial is located at Black Shoals Park, 3001 Black Shoals Rd NE in Conyers.