Overnight vigil held in honor of POWs, MIAs
DERRY — For more than two decades, the 24-hour vigil for prisoners of war and those who have gone missing in action has been one of the highlights of Derryfest.
As part of the vigil, which this year began on Sept. 14 and ended on Sept. 15, volunteers from Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1617 stood in 30-minute shifts beside a flame in memory of POWs and MIAs.
“I want to show respect for those in the military and for the prisoners of war and missing in action who are still out there,” said Justin Hoyt, who has volunteered for the memorial for years.
Angela Evans of the Legions’s Ladies Auxiliary stood alongside Hoyt and said she also volunteered to honor those who have served the United States.
“This is one of our traditional events, and we’ve been doing it for over 20 years,” said Post Commander Carl Starosciak. “We always get a good turnout, especially for the candlelight vigil.”
Although the vigil is a 24-hour event, several ceremonies took place over the course of the day, including an opening ceremony, the candlelight vigil and the closing ceremonies that took place at noon on Sept. 15.
Starosciak said that the vigil has always gotten an excellent response from the community, including those who attend Derryfest and those who stop by to pay their respects during the night before.
The vigil comes at a time when updated government numbers show an increase in the number of MIAs whose remains have been discovered over the past year, according to Starosciak.
“Quite a few of those who were MIA can finally come home,” he said.
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