Dozens gather at National D-Day Memorial to honor POWs and MIAs

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BEDFORD (WSLS 10) - Patriotism was in full force Saturday morning as dozens of people observed the ceremonial tributes to prisoners of war and those missing in action.

The highlight of this program was a speech by local Army veteran Robert Gray, who was a POW during the Korean War.

"We have so many things in this country to be grateful for, yet we don't notice them. Somebody or something paid for those things and we who were prisoners of war know more than most people about the sacrifice that these people made," Gray said as he spoke at a podium looking out over the memorial.

Local Cub Scout leader Mary Handy brought her scouts to the ceremony today because she wanted them to hear Gray's message.

"The children need to understand how to be respectful and reverent," Handy explained. When you bring them to a ceremony like this, they understand even more."

At the symbolic empty table, Rolling Thunder motorcycle riders placed a cover from each branch of the service on the table to represent all those who have not yet come home.

"Since World War I, over 90,000 POW-MIA still missing," Lynchburg Chapter Rolling Thunder President Rex Burst emphasized. "It's important we keep our focus on that so our elected officials know that we can never, ever again let that number stand."

A message that, like the patriotic music, was echoed loud and clear today.

"Without the sacrifices of them, we wouldn't have the freedom that we have," Gray said.

At the end of the program, Rolling Thunder riders presented two checks for a total of $2,600 which will be used to help build a monument at the D-Day Memorial to honor gold star families.

The goal is to have the monument in place by May of 2017.