A column by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin

September 25, 2013

For more than twenty-five years, Americans have designated the third Friday of September as National POW/MIA Recognition Day - a day dedicated to honoring the men and women who are former Prisoners of War or who are still listed as Missing in Action. On this day, we reaffirm our commitment to bringing every American soldier home.

Throughout West Virginia’s history, our Armed Forces have been comprised of hard working, loyal, and exceptional West Virginians. These men and women defend our freedoms and ensure our safety. The Mountain State has more service members per capita than nearly any other state, chances are you know someone within the POW/MIA community - a former prisoner of war, a family of a military member still missing in action, or a member of the community who has dedicated themselves to honoring these men and women.

I, like many West Virginians, have the highest level of respect for our military members. We are all grateful for their service and will never forget those who have served and sacrificed. Our commitment to our men and women in uniform can be seen throughout the year during many local, state, and national observances held in communities across the Mountain State.

In addition, the West Virginia Department of Veterans Assistance and many other state agencies, such as Workforce West Virginia and the Higher Education Policy Commission, diligently work to assist our veterans every day.

It’s clear the people of the Mountain State appreciate our military members and their families. During this year’s National POW/MIA Recognition Day, I ask all West Virginians to honor the families who wait patiently, year after year, for their loved ones to return - they do not wait alone. Together, we will carry the legacy of these true American heroes, and await their return - for as long as it takes. “You are Not Forgotten.”