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Park Hosts POW/MIA Recognition Day Event

Andersonville National Historic Site

National Park News

Four days of events marked National Prisoner of War – Missing in Action Recognition Day at Andersonville National Historic Site and in nearby Americus.  The third Friday of September is recognized as a day to acknowledge the sacrifices made by POWs throughout our history and to remember those who are still unaccounted for.  Andersonville is the location of the National Prisoner of War Museum and the national memorial to all POWs in American history, as designated by federal law.

The first event, held on Wednesday, September 17th, was a student convocation at Georgia Southwestern State University in Americus.  Specialist Joseph Hudson told more than 300 college and high school students about his ordeal as a POW in March 2003 when his unit was captured during a fierce battle during the initial invasion of Iraq. 

“We were mechanics,” he told the students. “We weren’t supposed to be captured and had not been trained to resist our captors.” 

After his presentation, Hudson took questions from the students. 

On Thursday the park co-sponsored a reception with the university to honor all the former POWs who attended.  Held at the historic Lee-Council House in Americus, the event was made possible by the Friends of Andersonville and Eastern National. 

From Thursday through Saturday, a book signing was held at the National POW Museum with Colonel Glenn D. Frazier, US Army (Retired), author of Hell’s Guest.  Colonel Frazier was a prisoner of the Japanese in WWII for three-and-a-half years. His story was a major focus in Ken Burns WWII documentary The War, which aired in the fall of 2007. 

On Friday, the group Rolling Thunder sponsored a remembrance ceremony at the First Baptist Church in Americus.  Leaders from the various branches of the military thanked the members of Rolling Thunder for their efforts to seek a full accounting of those still missing in action.  Another speaker from the Department of Defense’s Joint POW/MIA Accounting Office in Hawaii told what is being done by the government to search for the remains of those still unaccounted for.

Later that same day, a plaque was dedicated at the National POW Museum at Andersonville to the POWs of World War’s I and II from the 42nd Rainbow Division.  Over 200 were assembled for that short ceremony made up of former POWs and members of Rolling Thunder.  A candlelight ceremony was held at the Windsor Hotel in Americus in the evening. 

The last event, which was held at Andersonville National Cemetery on Saturday morning, was a service to honor former POWs.  The large crowd was lead by a processional of over 475 motorcycles from Americus.  At the start of the program, helicopters from the US Army and Navy provided a flyover to salute the POWs in attendance.  Music was provided by the Marine band from the Marine Corps Logistics Base, Albany, Georgia.  A plaque and commemorative coin were presented to each of the 81 former POWs in attendance.  Earlier in the week, Rolling Thunder volunteers put up an “Avenue of Flags” in the cemetery, which made a perfect setting for the program.  Beautiful weather and a large crowd of 800 made the event a great success. 


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