SPRINGFIELD – In conjunction with National Former Prisoner of War Recognition Day, the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs (IDVA) and the Department of Illinois, American Ex-Prisoners of War co-hosted the American Ex-Prisoners of War Recognition Day today with a ceremony on the Executive Lawn at the Governor’s Mansion in Springfield to recognize the courage and sacrifices made by those held in captivity while defending our nation. Governor Pat Quinn also proclaimed today American Ex-POW Recognition Day in Illinois.
The ceremony, held annually, pays tribute to United States service men and women who were imprisoned in all wars. The ceremony on the Executive Lawn of the Governor’s Mansion included prayers, speeches, a military salute, anthems, a Missing Man ceremony, and a Yellow Ribbon ceremony around the White Oak tree, which was planted April 9, 1983 as a living memorial for Prisoners of War and Missing In Action of all wars. More than a half-million Americans have been captured and interned as Prisoners of War since the American Revolution.
“These service members endured horrific circumstances that most people can’t even imagine,” said IDVA Director Dan Grant. “Today we take time to honor all American Ex-Prisoners of War for their bravery and perseverance and thank them for their help in defending our country.”
Dozens of Illinois Ex-POWs and their families visited the Governor’s Mansion today for the special ceremony. Robert E. Foster, Commander of the Department of Illinois, American Ex-Prisoners of War, Past Commander Donald McCormick and other local officials also participated in the event.
Full text of the Governor’s Proclamation is below:
WHEREAS, many loyal and brave Americans who served in the wars of this nation were captured by the enemy or listed as missing in action while performing their duties; and
WHEREAS, despite strict rules and regulations set forth by international codes, American Prisoners of War have often suffered unconscionable treatment and many have died as a result of cruel and inhumane acts by their enemy captors; and
WHEREAS, it is exceedingly fitting that we recognize the sacrifices of American Prisoners of War and those missing in action; and
WHEREAS, these heroic service men and women have demonstrated their love and convictions in the people and freedoms of this country by enduring these tragedies and in many unfortunate cases by giving the ultimate sacrifice:
THEREFORE, I, Pat Quinn, Governor of the State of Illinois, do hereby proclaim April 9, 2010 as AMERICAN EX-PRISONERS OF WAR RECOGNITION DAY in Illinois, and encourage all citizens to take a moment to honor and remember the men and women who suffered while fighting to make America a better place for all to live.