Today, Veterans Day, November 11, 2010, is the 40th anniversary of the POW/MIA bracelets.
“The bracelets were distributed by VIVA (Voices in Vital America) a non-profit, non-political national student organization dedicated to the fact that progress and freedom can only be achieved and maintained by rational and responsible action.”
“Over 1500 Americans are either Prisoners of War of Missing in Action in Southeast Asia.Aside from the inhumane treatment witnessed by those few who have returned, the most tragic aspect is that most of the families of these men do not know if their sons, husbands, or fathers are alive or dead. Hanoi won’t tell them.
This bracelet honors the man whose name is inscribed and includes the date he was lost. It should be worn with the vow that it will not be removed until the day the Red Cross is allowed into Hanoi and can assure his family of his status and that he receives the humane treatment due all men.”
Those words were taken directly from a small card that came with the bracelets back in the 70s and 80s. I have two original bracelets that I recently found in a box of items my father had that had been packed away for years.
The two men whose names are on these bracelets have been accounted for. Sgt. Gary Pate MIA May 22, 1968, identified March 13, 2009, buried with crew/group in Arlington National Cemetery June 2010. I hope to visit his grave this December when I again volunteer to lay wreaths on the graves with Wreaths Across America. I’m sure this grave is in Section 60 (where my brother is buried) because that’s where all the new burials are being placed. You can also find Sgt. Pate’s name on the most recent “accounted for” list at the DPMO Office.
The other bracelet is for Cdr. Guy Johnson, MIA December 20, 1965. He was identified and laid to rest in 1977 also at Arlington National Cemetery. His story, his family story after his return is awesome. I don’t know why these bracelets were not worn, as one of them is still in the original unopened package. I guess it’s because dad was always wearing one with the name of his son [my brother] on it. I am going to locate the families and send them the bracelets.
My brother Capt. Herbert C. Crosby, US Army, MIA 1970, was a name on a bracelet for over 37 years. Through God’s grace our prayers were answered and Herby was laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery May 25, 2007. After the press release of his identification, I was contacted by many people who had a bracelet with his name on it. We’ve received almost 20 so far, and as recent as August 2010.
Displayed on his flag with other cherished items are four of the many we have received. My mother who is now in a nursing home wears one all the time that we received in August.
Each person has a story that goes along with the bracelet. One lady was cleaning her jewelry drawer out and found the bracelet. She wondered what happened to Capt. Crosby. The next day on the front page of her local (Idaho) newspaper was a photo of the horse and caisson carrying his flag covered coffin at his funeral and his story…this was on the very day she found the bracelet . She later personally returned the bracelet to my mother in Florida.
One of my brother’s comrades was making a plaque to present to our family from the veteran’s association of pilots he flew with in Vietnam (http://www.rattler-firebird.org/) need a bracelet for the plaque so did an internet search finding the office of National League of POW/MIAs in Ohio. He called asking if there was a way to find a bracelet with a specific name (needle in a hay stack). The State Coordinator asked who it was. He told her Capt. Crosby. She said, “he’s on my arm!” She had worn his bracelet continuously since 1973. How ironic? Divine Appointment I’d say. This lady had also met my mother years ago at a POW/MIA meeting in Boston. She never took it off, even when going through airport security, except for once to have an MRI done. My brother she said had met some fantastic people over the years, and traveled over a good part of the globe. This is probably the most touching story because she wore that bracelet all the time.
A Vietnam veteran from Jacksonville, Florida, had a bracelet on his office desk all these years. When he found out the news he returned it, and also attended the funeral at Arlington National Cemetery (May 2007).
There are so many stories to tell but the fact is that people cared. They cared then and were brave enough to wear the bracelet, and they still care and still wear a bracelet.
When someone comes across their bracelet they’ll do an Internet search and that’s how they’re finding me as I have a website dedicated to my brother at http://www.firebird91.org/. Also, there are now many veteran websites with the updated news that he is no longer MIA.
I have given most bracelets to family members who have asked to have one. My mother is wearing one of the more recent ones that came in this year.
Thank you everyone who wore, or is still wearing a POW/MIA bracelet. Never forget our fallen heroes.
Read here about the Origin of original POW bracelets. to learn how they came to be.
Dave Berner is a documentary producer. His most recent audio work is FINDING MY KEROUAC and PEBBLE BEACH STORIES. He is also the author of Accidental Lessons: A Memoir of a Rookie Teacher and a Life Renewed, along with hundreds of magazine articles and broadcast reports for CBS Radio Chicago, NPR, and ABC radio.. He teaches at Columbia College Chicago.
Dave interviewed me while putting together a documentary about the bracelets last year although his final piece was on one family’s story. You can find more information at http://braceletsofgrace.blogspot.com/ His radio documentary about the POW/MIA bracelets of the Vietnam War era – BRACELETS OF GRACE will be aired on 11/11 on the Prairie Public Network. This is a large network of public radio stations, some 8-12 stations. They will be airing an edited version of the documentary at 3:30pm and 7:30pm central time tomorrow, November 11.
The broadcast can be listened to through station streaming at this site –http://www.prairiepublic.org/radio/listen-now/ If you have time listen in.
Happy Anniversary POW/MIA bracelets. I’m sorry you’re still in need, yet I’m happy you are still around to remind us all that we shall NEVER FORGET our fallen, from all wars.