National POW/MIA Recognition Day is Sept. 20
ANDERSONVILLE — National Prisoner of War/Missing in Action (POW/MIA) Recognition Day is Friday, Sept. 20. In honor of that day, the National Park Service, The Ride Home, the Friends of Andersonville, and Georgia Southwestern State University (GSW) will present special programs on Wednesday, Sept. 18 and Friday, Sept. 20.
Featured speaker Col. Robert Certain (ret.) will be the guest speaker for both the convocation on Wednesday and the event on Friday. The 2019 National POW/MIA Convocation will be held at 11 a.m. on Sept. 18 in the Storm Dome on the campus of Georgia Southwestern State University. The public is invited to this free program.
Born in Savannah, Certain graduated from Emory University in Atlanta with a degree in history and a commission in the U.S. Air Force. As a B-52 navigator he flew 100 missions over Southeast Asia in 1971, and 1972. He was shot down and captured in December 1972, and held as a POW until the war ended. Following the Vietnam War, he attended the School of Theology, an Episcopal Church seminary in Sewanee, Tennessee, and was ordained as a priest in 1976 after he received his master of divinity degree. In 1990, he was awarded his doctor of ministry degree from the School of Theology and served as a military chaplain in the Air Force. When former President Gerald R. Ford died in late 2006, Certain led all the memorial services and presided at his burial in Michigan. Today, Certain serves as the National Commander of the American Ex-Prisoners of War (AXPOW) organization.
The annual Convocation begins four days of area events held in honor of National POW/MIA Recognition Day. The Avenue of Flags, a stirring spectacle of over 200 full-sized flags, will be on display at Andersonville National Historic Site until Sept. 26 and will feature POW/MIA flags as well as American and state flags. The Ride Home, a nonprofit organization, will host several ceremonies in Warner Robins to remember military service members still listed as MIA and to honor former POWs.
At 9:30 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 20, The Ride Home and Andersonville National Historic Site will join together to conduct a special ceremony at the park’s National Prisoner of War Museum. Along with guest speaker Robert Certain, former World War II POW Bill Grafton will discuss his experience being held a prisoner of war by the Germans. Also coming to share the story of her brother who went MIA during the Korean War, is guest speaker Sharon Streetman Ray.
“National POW/MIA Recognition Day is one of our most important annual events,” said Acting Park Superintendent Jody Mays. “As the home of the National Prisoner of War Museum, our mission is to ensure that the sacrifice and legacy of American POWs will never be forgotten. We are honored to pay tribute to the American men and women who endured the loss of their freedom to protect ours.”