PRESCOTT – Tri-city area young people are joining the VA Medical Center to honor former prisoners of war and bring attention to members of the military who are missing in action during a special ceremony Friday.
The VA will conduct its eighth annual POW/MIA Recognition Ceremony at 10 a.m. at the flagpole circle between the hospital and the main administration building.
Tri-City Prep High School student Taylor Blanco will offer the keynote speech, and Chino Valley's James Gray will serve as master of ceremonies.
Blanco's high school extra-curricular activities include serving as a student council representative, as co-captain of the boys basketball team and as a member of the National Honor Society. He has earned the rank of Eagle Scout and won first- and second-place awards in an Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Science Fair.
Gray is a youth volunteer at the VA Medical Center who has donated more than 500 hours to the hospital. He recently received the National Disabled American Veterans Jesse Brown Memorial Scholarship.
Sara Gray, a Chino Valley middle school student, will offer the invocation, and Jason Akins will lead the pledge of allegiance.
Members of the Central Arizona Young Marines, including Dylan Baile, Michael Broyles, David Hamrick and Javin Mortimer, will serve as the color guard, and the Prescott High School Hi-Lites will offer a musical salute.
The POW/MIA recognition ceremony will feature the unveiling of a 5-foot-tall bronze statue entitled "They Gave All." The statue has been positioned west of the central flagpole. It represents a combat soldier's grave marker: a rifle with a helmet balanced on top. The Disabled American Veterans, Prescott Chapter 16, donated the statue to the VA Medical Center.
More than 142,000 Americans were captured and interned during World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War and the Somalia and Kosovo conflicts. This includes 81 women seized on Guam or in the Philippines during World War II and two during the Gulf War.
The Prescott VA Medical Center is at 500 Highway 89, just north of the junction of highways 69 and 89.
Call the VA Public Affairs office at 776-6013 for more information.
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