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story.lead_photo.caption Veteran Gary Miller, with the VFW Post 1003, sets a plate and silverware on a table during the POW/MIA ceremony at Sunday's Veterans Appreciation in the Park. The prisoner of war, missing in action memorial table is a ceremonial remembrance to honor the memory of those missing in action or prisoner of war military service members. Photo by Nicole Roberts / News Tribune.

Toward the front of the Memorial Park outdoor pavilion sat a single chair next to a small wooden table covered with a white table cloth, showing off a single plate, set of silverware, red rose and Bible.

That empty chair and table set for one are solemn reminders of the thousands of military service members who went missing in action or died as prisoners of war.

The Jefferson City Veterans Council hosted the third annual Veterans Appreciation in the Park on Sunday afternoon at Memorial Park, thanking veterans and current service members, as well as remembering those who never came back from war.

Along with serving free food and drinks, the Council held a prisoners of war and missing in action ceremony where VFW Post 1003 members created a prisoner of war and missing in action memorial table.

"It's our job to remember them and make sure they are remembered and have ceremonies like this so the youth in the community know what it's all about and the sacrifices that they made," Jefferson City Veterans Council President Don Hentges said. "If you don't talk about it and you don't have these ceremonies, they soon will be forgotten. In my mind, when we forget about that, we're done as a nation."

Usually held in August, the Jefferson City Veterans Council moved the event to September this year since the third Friday of September is National POW/MIA Recognition Day.

When "Armed Forces Salute" began playing the U.S. Marine Corps' song, 10-year Marine veteran Bill Plate jumped from the bench and stood at attention, yelling "Oorah!" Plate's young son sat on a bench next to him, staring up at his dad and smiling.

Plate, of Jefferson City, said he attended Sunday's event to support his fellow veterans and educate his children.

"It's to let them know what we did, what all these veterans here did, is not for glory; it's to defend our country and our way of life," he said. "There's a lot of bad press out there these days, anti-American press and anti-military press, so for them to see that even though that's there, we have fought for the people to have that right."

On the other side of the pavilion, World War II veteran C. Don Lee finished eating a bag of chips while speaking with friends. The 95-year-old Holts Summit resident was a pilot and remembers enlisting in the U.S. Navy shortly after turning 18 years old.

"I don't think a lot of the younger generation know a lot about what happened back in World War II," Lee said. "I just had a small part of it, but I'm pretty proud of our record for World War II."

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