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Remembering soldiers lost: Balloon release honors POW/MIAs

By Elizabeth Huwe/FOCUS

Students from St. Paul’s and St. Henry’s schools released more than 100 black and white balloons last Friday in memory of prisoners of war and soldiers missing in action.

Members of the Perham VFW and Ladies Auxiliary Post 4020 organized the event, which also included a brief question-and-answer session with students. The balloon release was originally scheduled for Sept. 20, POW/MIA Recognition Day, but was postponed due to high winds.

The balloons were filled with helium donated by NAPA Auto Parts, with the black balloons symbolizing mourning for soldiers who have been lost, and the white balloons standing for remembrance and the hope for peace in the future.

Millie Lauer, president of the Ladies Auxiliary, explained that the event evokes stronger feelings today than it might have in the past.

“Right now, we have a soldier who is being held as a POW,” Lauer told the students. “Bowe Bergdahl was captured in Afghanistan in 2009. The last time we saw a video of him, as proof of life, was in 2011.”

After this fifth annual balloon release in Perham, Lauer explained why the VFW and Auxiliary plan to continue with the event.

“We hope that this will help kids relate and realize that this is still going on,” she said. More than 83,000 service members are unaccounted for since World War II.

By Elizabeth Huwe, Perham Focus