POW/MIA Chair of Honor Program has dedicated home at Sussex Central

GEORGETOWN – Tens of thousands of Americans who served their country have never returned home.

Officially, they are listed statistically as POW/MIA – Prisoners of War/Missing in Action.

Friday evening, the National POW/MIA Chair of Honor program found a dedicated home at Sussex Central High School – the first high school in the state of Delaware to claim such a distinction.

Patriotic motorcyclists from across Delaware, veterans’ organizations and citizens joined Sussex Central senior Rebecca Bristow in the unveiling of two POW/MIA Chairs of Honor during ceremonies prior to Sussex Central’s football game with Polytech.

One POW/MIA chair will be anchored permanently at the school’s stadium. A smaller, portable chair will be placed in the school lobby and showcased at various school functions.

“Our intention is to educate people and educate the children in hopes that every time someone sees the Chair of Honor that they remember the 92,000 that are still missing,” said Newark resident Rosely Robinson, among the representatives of A Hero’s Welcome Delaware that took part in the dedication. “Because outside of their families and their closest friends, they have been just about forgotten.”

“May everybody that is here and sees this understand the honor of it, the importance of it and be grateful for it,” said Pastor Rick Betts of Crossroad Community Church in his invocation.

An 18-year-old senior at Sussex Central, Ms. Bristow plans to compete in the 2018 Miss Delaware pageant. Her pageant platform is entitled Serving Those Who Have Served.

“These chairs demonstrate that we, as Americans, will never forget their sacrifices for our country … and these seats will be empty, waiting in hopes that they can return home,” said Ms. Bristow.

Among those in attendance: Vietnam veteran Patrick J. Hughes, the national photographer for Rolling Thunder Inc., a non-profit organization whose mission is to bring full accountability for POW/MIA of all wars.

“Gold Star mothers or family members, someone who lost their son or daughter in service to our country, they have some type of closure,” said Mr. Hughes, who served with the U.S. Marines in 1967-68. “These people … think about their families. They are still missing. Every veteran has earned the right, the absolute right to come home.”

Ret. Lt. Col. Gregory Snapp, JROTC instructor at Sussex Central, saluted SCHS Principal Dr. Bradley Layfield, the school leadership and the Indian River School District leadership “for allowing Miss Bristow to do this project” with the A Hero’s Welcome Delaware organization.

“It is quite an honor for us to be the first high school to have these chairs installed,” he said.

Ms. Bristow, who is serving as Delaware High School ambassador for the POW/MIA Chair of Honor program, is on a mission to have POW/MIA chairs in every high school in the state. Plans are currently in the works for Indian River High School and Cape Henlopen High School. “And I am also working on Del Tech,” she said.

There are 17 Chairs of Honor in Delaware, including The Circle in Georgetown, the Veterans Cemetery in Millsboro, Bethany Beach, which was dedicated Sept. 7, and now Sussex Central High School.

Ms. Bristow, in acknowledgments in the dedication program, extended special thanks to: Hussey Seating Company for donation of POW-MIA Chairs of Honor; Rolling Thunder Inc.; POW/MIA Chair of Honor Program; State Sen. Gerald Hocker; State Representatives Ruth Briggs King, Ron Gray and Rich Collins; Stephen and Linda Jackson; Delaware State Police Pipes & Drum Band; Patrick J. Hughes; and Rosely Robinson/A Hero’s Welcome Delaware.

“Thank you for making this meaningful tribute to our country’s POW/MIA’s possible,” she stated.

News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at grolfe@newszap.com

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