Walking through the trees just southeast of the corner of Meridian Avenue and Plum Street this afternoon, passersby will most likely stop to stare at a lone CSU student locked in a 3-foot by 3-foot camouflaged, bamboo cage.
This exhibition — during which cadets from CSU’s Air Force Reserve Officer’s Training Corps will take turns in the cage, one at a time, every hour, for 24 hours — serves to represent the American prisoners of war the local and national military communities are honoring for National POW/MIA Recognition Day this Friday.
“…You do a lot of thinking; you realize a lot of how much it sucks to just sit in a cage for one hour, but compared to what the (prisoners of war) had to deal with, it’s nothing … reflection time and thinking time,” said Blake Friend, commander of the CSU Arnold Air Society.
The symbolic cage is a part of the 24-hour public remembrance ceremony approximately 150 Air Force ROTC cadets will host at 4 p.m. today near the Vietnam Memorial Bridge, west of the lagoon. At this time the Wing Walker Honor Guard will post near the cage and rotate every hour.
Students and families are encouraged to join the cadets to pay tribute to those Americans who gave their lives for their country.
“(This ceremony is) very important. It (serves) to raise awareness for those still missing in action and those who (have been) captured … a day to respect their memory and honor what they did,” Dakota Koolmees, a sophomore criminology major and AFROTC cadet, said.
The evening’s events include: a posting of the Wing Walker Honor Guard; a speech from Vietnam prisoner of war Robert Widemen; a 21-gun salute, a candlelight vigil, honoring 20 POWs and a free filming of the Vietnam War documentary “Return with Honor.”
The guest speaker, Wideman, will share his story at 4 p.m. as a Naval pilot whose plane was shot down May 6, 1967, during the Vietnam War and held captive as a prisoner of war for six years.
The last event of the night, the showing of “Return with Honor,” begins at 9 p.m. on the West Lawn and lasts about 2 and a half hours.
At 4 p.m. Friday, the closing ceremony begins with the final changing of the guard.
Staff Writer Lauren Leete can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.