LOVES PARK, Illinois — Rockford Charter Chapter VietNow will sponsor the 18th POW/MIA Candlelight Ceremony at 7 p.m., Friday, Sept. 12, at the Field of Honor, Arthur Anderson Peace Park in Loves Park, Illinois. In the event of cold weather, the event will be held in the Loves Park Civic Auditorium inside city hall.
This ceremony is held to remember the POWs/MIAs — Prisoners of War and the Missing in Action, and support the families by acknowledging their waiting and hoping for some news. Mothers still hope that their son will return, beyond what evidence, logic and government declaration seems to allow. The ceremony is wrapped around by the hosting of “The Wall That Heals.”
Keynote speaker will be CTRC Jeremy T. Crandall, 2014 U.S. Navy Sailor of the Year. Chief Cryptologic Technician (Collection) Jeremy Crandall has had a storied career. He had fewer than two years in uniform when, on April 1, 2001, he was one of 24 crew members detained by China after a collision between their EP-3E ARIES II signals intelligence aircraft and a Chinese J-811 interceptor fighter forced an emergency landing.
Crandall has spent much of the past 15 years encouraging and enabling at-risk sailors who face dire circumstances of their own. Most recently, the chief created BALLAST, a wide-ranging program centered on 342 hours of classroom instruction covering everything from financial management and drug/alcohol awareness to naval history and professional appearance. The program also features 18 hours of community service. Named after the ballast used to keep a ship upright and afloat, the program is nearing completion of its first year.
Crandall is from this area, calls Loves Park home, and was on the cover of Newsweek in 2001.
‘The Wall That Heals’
The traveling Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, “The Wall That Heals,” will be featured in a 24-hour-a-day presentation from Sept. 11-14 on the Festival Field east of the Loves Park City Hall complex. Its purpose is to honor the fallen soldiers of Vietnam and help their comrades in arms close a chapter in their lives. It allows veterans of that area to touch base or say a goodbye to someone they served with in battle when there wasn’t much chance for ceremony and goodbyes to the dead in the heat of battle or its aftermath. One focus of this effort is to collect scans of photos of those on the wall with their families and friends, as well as in their school and community. Some were outstanding athletes, or active members in their church and would have continued to be contributing members of society. The wall contains more than 58,000 names.
The first POW/MIA Remembrance Ceremony sponsored by Rockford Charter Chapter took place Sept. 20, 1996. It was held at the “Victory” statue at Memorial Hall in Rockford, as a result of Machesney Park Harlem graduate Mike Parker’s idea. He was the emcee, and Bob Theroux was the keynote speaker. The next year, the event was moved to the Field of Honor Memorial in Loves Park, where it has stayed ever since.
From the Sept. 10-16, 2014, issue