SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich proclaimed today as American Ex-POW Recognition Day in Illinois to honor all Ex- Prisoners of War (POW) from the state. He also named lifelong Illinois resident Robert Roenna as the State of Illinois’ April “Veteran of the Month” for his dedication to helping former POWs throughout the state. Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs (IDVA) Director L. Tammy Duckworth presented the award to Roenna during the annual American Ex-POW recognition ceremony outside the Governor’s Mansion in Springfield.
“Mr. Roenna has dedicated many years of selfless service to the Veterans in Illinois and continues to help improve the quality of life for our former POWs,” said Gov. Blagojevich. “Today we honor Mr. Roenna and all Ex-POWs for their courage, perseverance and strength and for their help in making our country free.”
This year’s American Ex-POW ceremony was held in conjunction with National Former Prisoner of War Recognition Day. Dozens of Illinois Ex-POWs and their families visited the Governor’s Mansion today for the special ceremony honoring their courage and service to our nation. The annual ceremony pays tribute to United States service men and women who were imprisoned in all wars, with prayers, speeches, a military honor guard, and anthems.
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 soldiers 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, Rod R. Blagojevich, Governor of the State of Illinois, do hereby proclaim April 9, 2008 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.
The Governor’s “Veteran of the Month” award is a distinction that is given monthly to military Veterans who give back to their community and other Veterans.
“The ‘Veteran of the Month’ award is a way for us to thank some of the brave men and women who have served in the military and then continue to serve their community. It is only appropriate that today, on American Ex-POW Recognition Day, we honor Mr. Roenna with the April ‘Veteran of the Month’ award for all of his work with his fellow former POWs,” said IDVA Director Tammy Duckworth.
Roenna honorably served in the United States Army 1st Ranger Battalion (Darby’s Rangers) during World War II. His unit was overtaken by the German Army and the entire Battalion was either killed or taken prisoner. Roenna was a prisoner of war for 17 months. As a soldier, Mr. Roenna earned the WW II Victory Medal, a Purple Heart, the European African Middle Eastern Theater Ribbon with two bronze stars, three Overseas Service Bars, and the Army Good Conduct Medal.
For the last seven years, Roenna has lived his life serving those who have served our country, specifically those who were taken prisoners during battle. He serves as an accredited National Service Officer representing the American Ex-Prisoners of War and has assisted over 150 former POWs in their compensation claims processing with the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. His ability to get former POWs to share their experiences is remarkable. He has also served in several Officer Positions with the American Ex-Prisoners of War at the Chapter, State and National level. He is currently serving as the State Junior-vice Commander for the American Ex-Prisoners of War organization.
Roenna is a loyal and dedicated volunteer to Illinois Veterans, advocating for all those in need. He is an active member of Veterans of Foreign Wars, Military Order of the Purple Heart, Disabled American Veterans and the American Legion. He currently resides in Medinah, Illinois with his wife Marianne.
The “Veteran of the Month” award highlights the work of community activists who are also military Veterans. Each month, on behalf of Governor Blagojevich, the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs recognizes a different person or group that contributes to the betterment of communities across the state of Illinois. To nominate a “Veteran of the Month,” please visit IDVA’s website at www.state.il.us/agency/dva or call IDVA at (217) 785-4114 to obtain a list of guidelines and a nomination form.