The annual prisoner of war/missing in action remembrance ceremony, which begins today, is meant to remind students that not everyone who goes to war returns home, said the commander of the Air Force ROTC’s Arnold Air Society.The POW/MIA ceremony at TCU intends to raise awareness among students about missing soldiers, said Jessica Murray, the Arnold Air Society commander.
Murray, a senior kinesiology major, said the Arnold Air Society is an honorary service organization within ROTC that coordinates this ceremony.
Alicia Davis, a junior business major and the ROTC public affairs officer, said this event pays respect to those people who put their lives on the line to defend the country.
“I believe this is an important event because there are people isolated in hostile territory, because they were fighting for our freedom that we seem to easily take for granted,” Davis said. “I hope this event will help people realize that freedom isn’t free and be more thankful for it.”
Murray said there will be a 24-hour vigil where the Air Force and Army ROTC students, dressed in their uniforms and holding practice rifles, will take turns guarding the flag. These students will be on 15-minute shifts throughout the 24 hours, she said.
Military tents will be set up next to the flag, and movies such as the “Band of Brothers” series will be shown to entertain supporters.
Brody Hanson, a sophomore mechanical engineering major and first lieutenant of the Air Force ROTC, said he considers this event important because it pays respect to the soldiers who are still behind bars in enemy states.
Hanson said ROTC students guard the flags during the 24-hour vigil because the flags are representative of each citizen, and said that guarding the flag symbolizes protection of the United States.
Thursday morning, ROTC students -will run in shifts from the flag to a location on Main Campus and back as a part of the tradition. These students will be holding a pole with the POW flag called “guidon” during the four-hour event, Murray said.
There will also be a candle-lighting ceremony and a guest speaker Thursday at Robert Carr Chapel.
Lt. Col. John Yuill, a prisoner during the Vietnam War and a B-52 pilot, has been invited as this year’s guest speaker.
Murray said Yuill will be speaking about his experiences as a prisoner of war and about the core values of the Air Force. Yuill also spoke at the POW/MIA ceremony in 1992.
The ceremony will end Thursday evening with a three-volley salute, in which three students fire three shots each, followed by the lowering of the POW/MIA flag.