Smyrna High Air Force Junior ROTC unveiled a Chair of Honor, an unoccupied seat dedicated to more than 92,000 American service members classified as a prisoner of war or missing in action Dec. 16.
Since World War II, tens of thousands of people have gone to war and not come home to their families. Smyrna High did its part to honor them Dec. 16.
In a ceremony led by Smyrna High Air Force Junior ROTC, the school dedicated a Chair of Honor. Air Force veteran John Dumas did the unveiling.
Col. Mark Hetterly, JROTC leader, said it is important for Americans to remember the sacrifice of those who are listed as POW/MIA.
“The chair will remain empty as a reminder that even though these military veterans may not be with us, there is still a place for them in our hearts and they will never be forgotten,” Hetterly said.
Retired National Guard Col. Phillip Kroal gave the keynote address using the eagle, Smyrna’s mascot and the nation’s emblem, as the main focus. He discussed it as recognizable symbol for power, strength and courage — the same qualities of American service members — and the nation’s foundational beliefs of liberty and freedom.
“The history and the past are valuable vehicles to understanding where we are and what we need to do,” Kroal said. “Today’s ceremony is a symbol of our future based on the story of our nation. It will remind us to reinforce the generational sacrifices made by American service members.”
Rosely Robinson, director of Delaware chapter of A Hero’s Welcome, said 122 Delawareans are among the more than 92,000 American service members classified as a prisoner of war or missing in action and people must never forget them.
“Every one of those, even though it’s a small number, they each have a name, they have a mother, they have a father, they have a sister or brother. Many waiting for them to come home,” she said.
The ceremony in the gym was heavily attended by veterans representing every branch of the military.
Smyrna students Emma Van Orden and Dawson Ludwig helped with music. Van Orden sang the national anthem and patriotic country song “God Bless the U.S.A.” by Lee Greenwood and Ludwig performed the bugle call Taps on the trumpet.
Hetterly said the chair will be in the main gym lobby.
POW/MIA chairs are found at arenas, town halls and capitals across the United States. In Delaware, among the places they have been dedicated are Delaware Technical and Community College, the Encompass Health Rehabilitation Center, Delaware Military Academy and Middletown High School.