Letter: Vigil keeps issue alive

To the editor,

On Saturday, June 14th (Flag Day), the Naugatuck Veterans Council is sponsoring a POW/MIA vigil on the Naugatuck Green at the gazebo from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. The purpose of the vigil is to keep the public aware of the POW/MIA issue and the government’s efforts to account for all prisoners of war and those missing in action from all U.S. wars.  It is important we continue to remind our elected officials to continue and even increase the efforts for a full accounting of all POWs and MIAs in order to give final closure to their families and friends.

Volunteers posing as prisoners will spend one hour shifts in two bamboo cages. They will be dressed in black pajamas, barefooted, shackled and blindfolded as they were by the enemy during the Vietnam War. The vigil is held to represent all wars, not just Vietnam, although the majority of volunteers happen to be Vietnam veterans.

Opening ceremonies are at 8:10 a.m., just after the first prisoners enter the cages. Each hour prisoners are released and welcomed home, and new prisoners enter the cages. At 4:10 p.m., the Naugatuck Elk’s Lodge will perform a Flag Day ceremony. Closing ceremonies are at 5:10 p.m. The guest speaker is the sister of Andre R. Guillet, a senior master sergeant of the U.S. Air Force, who was listed as missing in action in Laos in 1966. Color guards for the day include: Naugatuck police color guard; Naugatuck Fire Department color guard, and the state of Connecticut American Legion color guard.  Former Senator Bob Dorr is the opening ceremony guest speaker. The Ojeda Council #33 Knights of Columbus will join retired Deacon Terrence Nolan for the invocation in the a.m., and Father Charles Haggerty will give the benediction in the p.m. The bugler is Peter Ruggeri, a Vietnam vet. The vigil is presented by the Connecticut Vietnam veterans committee of Milford and West Haven, managed by the Naugatuck POW/MIA committee and supported by Naugatuck’s American Legion Post 17, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. Post 1946, and Catholic War Veterans of the U.S.A. Post 708 and post auxiliaries.

We ask all of you to take some time and visit the Green Saturday to lend support to this cause. Come down and view the prisoners and reflect on what their fates might have been. Keep the issue alive. Let our government know we cannot rest until all are accounted for. Say a prayer, anything, but do something. You will feel better about being an American if you do.

Bob Genovese and Phil Arcuri

Co-chairmen

Naugatuck Veterans Council POW/MIA Committee

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