Friday was National Prisoners of War/Missing in Action (POW/MIA) Recognition Day, and Anacoco followed suit with prior years by holding a remembrance ceremony and prayer breakfast.

Col. Chris Moretti, JRTC and Fort Polk Chief-of-Staff, who took part in the ceremony, said before coming here a month ago, everyone he spoke with had nothing but good things to say about the community in and around Fort Polk.

He feels the impact of this kind of ceremony, for an active-duty soldier, is a reminder that the civilian community values the sacrifice of the armed forces. “American communities never settle and they don’t forget,” said Moretti. “What makes it special is the names and the individual stories of families and veterans.”

During the POW/MIA recognition ceremony, Moretti explained to the audience the significance of each symbolic item on a table in the front of the community center. There stood a vase, enshrouded with a red ribbon, which “represents the red ribbons worn on the lapels of the thousands who demand, with unyielding determination, a proper account of our comrades who are not among us.”

He continued, “The slice of lemon on the plate reminds us of their bitter fate.

“The salt sprinkled on the plate reminds us of the countless fallen tears of families as they wait.

“The glass is inverted, they cannot toast with us at this time.

“The chair is empty. They are not here.

“The candle is reminiscent of the light of hope, which lives on in our hearts to illuminate their way home, away from their captors, to open arms of a grateful nation.

“The American flag reminds us that many of them may never return and have paid the supreme sacrifice to ensure our freedom.

In his most recent deployment, Moretti served as the Senior Advisor for the Afghan Minister of Defense. One thing he observed was that the Afghan army, just 15 years old, is “envious at the sense of community” and unwillingness of “veterans and American citizens to forget.”

He commended the Village of Anacoco for being so supportive and involved in the Fort Polk Community. “It’s very humbling and comforting,” said Moretti.