Woodbury memorial honors soldiers who never came home from war

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Woodbury memorial honors soldiers who never came home from war

BY STEVE BIGHAM Republican-American


Nonnewaug High School student Andrew Grivner stands beside the POW/MIA chair of honor, which he helped bring to the school as part his Eagle Scout project. Steve Bigham Republican-American

WOODBURY — A POW/MIA chair of honor was unveiled during a ceremony near the football field at Nonnewaug High School on Friday, National POW/MIA Recognition Day.

More than 100 people attended the event, including students, teachers, administrators, Region 14 school board members, parents and local military veterans.

The chair, fixed in concrete, is the brainchild of sophomore Andrew Grivner, who installed the monument as part of his Eagle Scout project. The chair is designed to serve as a forever reminder of American soldiers who never came home from war and remain unaccounted for, Grivner said.

The chair will remain unoccupied at all times as a reminder that “there is still a place reserved for them,” he said.

“My hope is that this memorial serves as a humble reminder to all students and visitors that the freedoms we enjoy on these fields are not shared by all,” Grivner said, noting the stadium chair used in the memorial acknowledges the athletic talent that competes there.

Friday’s ceremony also included comments from Army veteran and Woodbury resident Bud Neal, who brought along a small table with a number of items on it, all symbolizing American POW/MIAs who, he said, are missed by a grateful nation. Steve Bigham Republican-American

Grivner said the project is part of the nationally recognized “You Are Not Forgotten” slogan for POW/MIA recollection.

Similar chairs can be found around the country at schools, sports stadiums and other public places, including the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC.

Grivner, a member of Woodbury’s Boy Scout Troop 54, said the chair will be cordoned off, illuminated at night, and accompanied by both an American flag and POW/MIA flag.

Grivner said he raised the $2,800 project cost through fundraisers and sponsorships. Harrison Electric volunteered its time to provide the lighting and electricity, he noted.

Friday’s ceremony also included comments from Army veteran Bud Neal of Woodbury, who commands the town’s American Legion Post 155. Neal reminded the audience the cost of freedom is staggering in terms of loss of human life, the ultimate personal sacrifice.

Neal pointed to a small table with a number of items on it, which he had set up temporarily in front of the new memorial. The items included a plate, white tablecloth, candle, red rose, lemon, glass and a Bible. Neal said they were symbols of prisoners of war and those missing in action who remain missing or unaccounted for, much to the pain of their loved ones.

“We call them comrades. They are unable to be with their families and friends, so we join together to pay tribute to them and to honor their absence,” Neal said, explaining the table is small to symbolize the POWs’ frailty, alone against their suppressors.

The white tablecloth shows the purity of these missing soldiers’ intentions to serve their country. The single red rose symbolizes the blood they may have shed, and the slice of lemon demonstrates the bitterness of their fate. The salt sprinkled on the plate, Neal said, represents the fallen tears of family members as they await their loved ones’ return.

“And the candle is reminiscent of the light in our hearts as we await their return and welcome them home into the arms of a grateful nation,” Neal said.

The American flag, Neal concluded, represents the realization that many POWs will never come home, having given the ultimate sacrifice.