Soldiers of war remembered

Sep 182005
Authors: Natasha Grunden

Twenty-four hours were laid aside Thursday into Friday to honor those who have risked or lost their lives for the United States and the families who supported them.

A 24-hour prisoner of war/ missing in action vigil commenced at 4 p.m. on the lawn by the Natural Resource building Thursday.

Each hour a cadet, symbolizing an actual POW or soldier MIA, was placed in a makeshift cage on the lawn. Two soldiers escorted each prisoner to the cage while information about the symbolic soldier was read aloud.

Each prisoner left a lit candle with the name of the soldier they represented next to the flag. The poem "Come For Me" was read as each symbolic POW-MIA moved toward the cage.

At all times during the vigil, a member of the Wing Walker Honor Guard stood watch over the flag, with the guard changing every hour.

"I think it's a really good thing to make people aware in the nation," said Andrea Little, senior landscape architecture major.

University of Northern Colorado Cadet Neal Day mentioned the importance of remembering POW-MIA soldiers, with the phrase "You are not forgotten" written on the POW-MIA flag.

Arnold Air Society (AAS) Commander and senior civil engineer major Brandon Horii opened the ceremony, speaking of hope and remembrance of POWs and soldiers MIA.

"To those who are missing, we will not give up hope of finding you and bringing you home," Horri said.

This year's speaker, 1st Lt. Robert Ball, was a World War II POW. Carrying himself tall and dignified, Ball distinguished himself in the maroon jacket and gray pants specific to a POW uniform.

"There are a lot of enemies in prison camp," Ball said.

Those enemies were the harsh German winter he survived wearing nothing more than the clothes that he was shot down in and the hunger resulting from the meager portions of food he received.

For 14 days he was given nothing but black bread and water in an attempt by the Germans to break his will and abandon the Code of Honor.

"Don't give in; that's not the American soldier's way," he said.

Ball also listed boredom and apathy as adversaries in the camp. Using the time the POWs had, they formed a collegiate bond to share their knowledge with one another.

"It's not over until you return to base. Apathy has no place in prison camp," he said.

Ball shared the lessons he learned as a POW: tolerance for the people around you whether you like them or not, patience to get through the slower moving lifestyle, cooperation throughout the camp and sharing what little you had with your fellow captives.

When the German army shot Ball down, he weighed 185 pounds. When he was rescued, he had dropped to 94 pounds.

Over the course of the 24-hour vigil, curiosity drew in passersby to watch the uniformed guards and caged soldiers, said Brianne McMullen, senior zoology and AAS public affairs officer. es

The vigil concluded Friday at 4 p.m. when the memorial candles were blown out and the poem "Come For Me" was read. The United States and POW-MIA flags were lowered, folded and taken away as the trumpet quartet and bagpipes played. A 21-gun salute symbolized a last sign of respect for POWs and those MIA.

"It's important to remember (soldiers') sacrifice," said Lacey Hanner, junior microbiology major.

Joanna Thomas contributed to this story.

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