Ceremony in Jackson will be reminder of MIA/POWs

JACKSON – An empty chair and table will soon stand as a testament to the thousands of missing military members who have served in America’s wars.

On Feb. 3 at 2 p.m., local veterans, municipal officials and members of the New Jersey chapter of Rolling Thunder will host a Missing Man Table and Chair of Honor ceremony in the main meeting room of the Jackson municipal building, West Veterans Highway.

Mayor Michael Reina, who occasionally rides a motorcycle with the Rolling Thunder group, said he agreed to host the ceremony when he was asked to do so by members of the organization.

“There is not much I would not do” for members of the military, Reina said. “This is something Rolling Thunder put together that I am honored to play a small part of.”

According to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, of the U.S. Department of Defense, there are more than 83,000 American military personnel missing since World War II.

From the Vietnam War, the National League of POW/MIA Families estimates there are more than 1,600 American military personnel missing in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.

“These are people who put their lives on the line for others and they are unaccounted for,” Reina said. “We need to know where they are and we want people to know they gave the ultimate sacrifice … When you add them all up, it is astonishing the number is still that high.”

Following the Feb. 3 ceremony, the chair and table will remain in front of the Hall of Honors, which features photographs of Jackson men and women serving in the military, according to the mayor.

“How do you not honor these people (who are missing)? This is something that I think needs to be done and kept front and center,” Reina said.

Members of the public are invited to attend the Feb. 3 ceremony at town hall.

“You do not have to be a veteran to witness this honor,” Reina said. “It’s like our Wounded Warrior parade, where we line the streets with civilians and veterans. It’s the least we can do to show we care.”