PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Friday was Prisoners of War and Missing in Action Recognition Day, an annual event held on the third Friday in September. The day honors Americans who were prisoners of war and those who served and never returned home.
Port St. Lucie honored these brave service members with a new display at Veterans Memorial Park.
Veterans and community members gathered Friday in Port St. Lucie for the special ceremony.
Bobbie Williams, the president of the Treasure Coast chapter of the Military Officers Association Of America, was among those in attendance.
"We remember, but it's also about educating people with respect to the people who are still missing, the people whose families and loved ones are still hurting because they haven’t had a chance to get closure," Williams said.
During Friday's ceremony, they unveiled the POW/MIA "Chair of Honor."
Bob Staneruck is the president of Rolling Thunder of Florida Chapter 6. The advocacy group is responsible for getting the chair displayed in Port St. Lucie. Staneruck's father fought in World War II and lost many of his fellow soldiers.
"It means a lot to veterans that they know that their brothers and sisters are not forgotten, and we remember them," Staneruck said.
The chair symbolizes the vacant seats of those who never made it back home and serves as a powerful reminder of their sacrifice.
"It's even harder when that loved one dies overseas in service for our country," Port St. Lucie Councilman and Army veteran David Pickett said. "You don't get closure by them coming home and being able to have a funeral and bury them."
For Williams, the chair is a permanent reminder of an important message.
"Freedom is not free," Williams said. "It comes at a cost."