Students pay respects at memorial

Several students and faculty gathered at the Vietnam memorial on South Campus at Cal State Long Beach to commemorate National Prisoner of War/Missing in Action (POW/MIA) day on Friday.

Troy Johnson, the president’s adviser on veteran affairs, discussed the importance of remembering those who were lost in war.

“This is an important day to remember those who gave their lives for this country,” he said.

Johnson introduced President F. King Alexander who discussed what this day meant to him.

“When I was president of Murray State University in Kentucky, I knew students who, after graduating, enlisted themselves in the military and soon were sent off to fight in Iraq. I believe we sit here in the bastion of hope, the bastion of what the world can provide with education. The Armed Forces help us in achieving this.”

Undeclared freshman Lisa Leal was one of several students in attendance to pay tribute to the soldiers of both past and present wars.

“My brother is in Iraq as part of the Army right now,” she said. “A lot of his friends died in the war and I came out today for him.”

Lt. Jeb White gave a short speech about the men and women of the Armed Forces.

“By standing at this memorial, we pay tribute to those who gave their lives for their country. These men and women made tremendous sacrifices in the name of freedom,” he said.

At the end of White’s speech, Johnson summoned the student-led color guard to bring the POW flag to the flagpole and raise it. Unfortunately, the color guard was unable to raise the flag due to complications with the pulling device. But Johnson commented after the ceremony by saying, “We had two trial runs before the ceremony and it worked fine. It’s unfortunate but these things happen.”

The CSULB Brass Ensemble played the National Anthem while the color guard held up the flag, which had a picture of a soldier with a guard tower in the background, barbed wire in the foreground and the words, “You are not forgotten” printed on the bottom.

“It’s a teaching opportunity for our students who see this flag and wonder what it’s about,” Johnson said. “We’ve got to keep teaching.” POW/MIA was an order of former President of the United States George Bush as a tribute to those lost in the Gulf war as well as all previous wars.

The number of soldiers still unaccounted for from each war are as follows: WWII, 78,000; Korea, 8,300; Vietnam, 1,800; The Gulf War, 3; the current war in Iraq, 12.

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