POW-MIA Day crosses generations with stories of heroism

The phrase “We remember” is used often these days – Pearl Harbor, 9/11, Afghanistan, Benghazi.

In the Washington County village of New Matamoras, that phrase takes on special meaning around this time of year. It’s when POW-MIA Recognition Day is held at New Matamoras Elementary School.

Students, faculty and members of the community get together to pay tribute to prisoners of war and those whose whereabouts were never confirmed after the wars in which they fought.

Over the more than 20 years the observance has been held the numbers of those saluted have dwindled. During Friday’s event only one former World War II POW – Herman Zerger of Woodsfield – was able to attend.

He told students about his ordeal of being taken prisoner in Germany in 1945. “It’s something you never forget,” Zerger said.

The Woodsfield man gets other invitations to attend POW events, but he keeps coming back to New Matamoras because he knows and likes the people there. We think the annual event and Zerger’s attitude about it say a lot about the people of New Matamoras.

Students joined in with essays about what the service of others in the military means to them. And there were tributes to area veterans who live in the area and others who have been killed or wounded in action.

Those responsible for the annual POW-MIA Day in New Matamoras should be proud of their event and we all should be grateful to them and, of course, to those who have served and are serving in the military.

Clearly, “We remember” isn’t just a saying to the people of the New Matamoras community.