Honoring Those Who Serve | Christian County Headliner News
RANCE BURGER [email protected]
Four men who survived the Korean War, returned home and settled in Christian County, participated in a special Veterans Day ceremony. Together, they unveiled a marker that honors deceased servicemen whose remains have not been identified.
The marker will be placed at the Veterans Memorial outside the Nixa Community Center, which is near the south entrance. The four Korean War veterans were among more than 50 people who gathered at the X Center on November 13, on Veterans Day.
Al Michel, a Nixa veteran, was the keynote speaker and explained the meaning of the marker. 2021 marks the 100th anniversary of the installation of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.
“Here lies in honored glory, an American soldier known but of God,” reads an inscription on the side of the tomb.
Michel also explained the purpose of the three Greek figures carved in marble on the side of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The three characters represent Peace, Victory and Valor.
Veterans Day, originally called Armistice Day, was established in 1918, in the aftermath of the First World War. The first unknown soldier buried in Arlington was an American who died in France during World War I.
“When we look a few minutes back at World War I, the Great War, we learn very quickly that the battlefields of that war were a horrible place, with trench warfare, with lethal gas, with fighting in short range of low artillery, machine guns and grenades, muddy fields, disease and little medical aid to support, ”Michel said.
Due to the nature of the fighting, many dead soldiers were buried in unconventional places, in mass graves or in makeshift graves on the battlefield. The nature of the conflict led to the taking, then the loss, and then the recapture of several plots of land. As the battle lines changed, it became more and more difficult to identify the burial sites.
“Many were buried where they died in the fields of France,” Michel said. “Many have never been found. Today, the German and British war graves agencies consider that there are still perhaps 80,000 soldiers from each country who are missing in the fields of France, and they are still considered missing. “
Remains of WWI soldiers are still found, identified, returned to surviving family members and buried in all nations involved in WWI.
The tomb now contains the remains of unknown American servicemen who died during World War II and the Korean War. An unknown American from the Vietnam War was later identified as Air Force 1st Lt. Michael Joseph Blassie and transferred to a grave in St. Louis. The Vietnam Veterans Tomb at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is now empty and honors 2,054 U.S. servicemen who died in the Vietnam War from 1958 to 1975.
Michel explained the role of the Defense POW / MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA), which is part of the US Department of Defense. The DPAA has a lab at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska, where unidentified remains are sent for evaluation.
“There is a team of 30 forensic anthropologists working to identify the remains that have been found. Some remains from land battles and others from sunken ships. In this team’s most successful year, in 2019, two years ago, the remains of 217 people were found in more than 35 countries, ”said Michel.
The team’s work never stops.
Society of the Honor Guard, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is a non-profit organization dedicated to the protection and improvement of the tomb and the guards who protect it. In an effort to raise awareness of the effort to protect and preserve the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the group is encouraging towns and veterans groups across the country to place small garden markers that commemorate the Unknown Servicemen and unidentified.
A marker will be placed at the Nixa Community Center. In the future, another will be placed at the Nixa American Legion Post No. 434.