Former prisoner of war speaks at Oshkosh veterans remembrance ceremony

OSHKOSH, Wis. (WBAY)- To this day hundreds of U.S. service members are considered prisoners of war or missing in action, but on Saturday dozens in Oshkosh gathered to make sure they are remembered through a ceremony.

POW/MIA Remembrance Ceremony at South Park Veterans Memorial in Oshkosh

Members of the Oshkosh ‘Vietnam Veterans of America,’ says the ‘Annual POW/MIA Remembrace Ceremony’ remembers all of the brave men and women, whose families are waiting for their return.

“Our chapter presented the POW/MIA remembrance ceremony for those that were prisoners of war and those that are still missing in action from not only the Vietnam War but all wars, they got to be accounted for,” said Duane Canon, President of the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 437.

The ceremony’s guest speaker, Kevin Hermening, was the youngest American to be held as a prisoner of war at the U.S. Embassy in Iran. Hermening was held hostage in 1979 for 444 days.

“As someone who survived, who was lucky that people remembered for 444 days, I have a responsibility to remind people that there are still families waiting for the return of their loved ones,” Hermening said.

The ceremony was held at South Park Veterans Memorial in Oshkosh. The program included a POW/MIA update, a table ceremony, a presentation of service covers and a rifle salute. The audience sang ‘Proud to be an American’ by Lee Greenwood before closing out the ceremony.

“There are still so many that are not accounted for not only from Vietnam but from the different wars, but at least they’re making an effort to do it,” said Canon.

Hermening says if there’s one message to take home, it’s to remember that the freedom we have here should be used to its full potential in order to make the world better for yourself and others.

“Not being able to talk to my family for 14 months, knowing what if anything was being done to get us out, there’s a lot of fear in uncertainty, but we have a pretty certain life as Americans, and so never give up hope that it can be better for yourself, but also take responsibility to make it better for someone else,” Hermening says.

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