This weekend will be marked by moments of silence and the roar of motorcycles as veterans and their supporters hold ceremonies to honor prisoners of war and soldiers who are missing in action.
The POW/MIA weekend of remembrance begins with the Vietnam War Post 52 24-hour POW/MIA vigil Friday in Diamond Park.
A highlight is the candle-lighting ceremony at 8 p.m. Friday.
Ninety-six candles will be lit, one for each of Pennsylvania’s POW/MIAs from the Vietnam War. Five additional candles will be lit to recognize those who served in World War I, World War II, the Korean and Vietnam wars and the Global War on Terror.
“The POW/MIA event sends the message that it is unacceptable for our government to leave any soldiers behind in combat,” said Lori Davis, an organizer.
Davis, who is the wife of Phil Davis, a Vietnam veteran and Post 52 POW/MIA director, said despite the event being somber at times, there are many mixed emotions. In the end, however, people always seem to feel uplifted, she said.
“There is documentation that supports the belief that soldiers are still being held captive in Cambodia, Russia and China — we want them to be brought home, alive or dead,” she said. “People who leave here feel hopeful that if they or their loved one were missing, that there would be people who care and wouldn’t let them also be forgotten.”
Saturday two separate events are slated, beginning with the Ride for Freedom. Registration is free and will begin at noon in Conneaut Lake at the Fairway 12 on Route 618, with motorcyclists set to depart at 3 p.m. promptly, Davis said. Weather is always a factor, but because of the warm, sunny weather expected, Davis anticipates about 750 motorcyclists will converge at the final stop in Diamond Park shortly before 4 p.m.
The second Saturday event begins in the park at 4 p.m. as the group hosts a ceremony featuring the dedication of the new Global War on Terror panel on the Crawford County veterans memorial to honor residents who were killed in combat.
The new panel includes the names of three Crawford County soldiers. It will accompany panels that are already in place for soldiers of World War I, World War II, the Koran War and Vietnam War.
Penni Schaefer can be reached at 724-6370 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
Names on the new Global War on Terror panel:
James D. Mowris of Conneaut Lake, killed Jan. 29, 2004
David M. Veverka of Jamestown, killed May 6, 2006
Timothy J. Lauer of Meadville, killed Oct. 18, 2006
Ride of Freedom route:
Motorcyclists will depart Fairway 12, Route 618, Conneaut Lake, at 3 p.m. and head to Diamond Park in Meadville for a 4 p.m. Global War on Terror memorial panel dedication ceremony. In Meadville, the route will travel north on Park Avenue, right onto North Street and right onto North Main Street into Diamond Park.