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Paynesville Press - May 22, 2002

POW/MIA display up at the Legion post

By Michael Jacobson

Leroy Mackedanz and his POW/MIA display Questions about the meaning of the black POW/MIA flag outside the American Legion led LeRoy Mackedanz to build a new display inside the American Legion Post #271 in Paynesville.

According to the Legion service manual, the POW/MIA flag represents the thousands of American military personnel still unaccounted for from World War II, Korea, and Vietnam.

Mackedanz, who serves as the maintenance man, assistant gambling manager, and bingo manager at the Legion, came up with the idea to make the display, using the images in the Legion's POW/MIA remembrance service.

As far as Mackedanz knows, it's the only display of its kind. Post commander Larry Alstead is submitting it to the national Legion magazine as a story.

Mackedanz - who served in the army during the Berlin Crisis and the start of the war in Vietnam - spent his own time this winter building the display out of red oak. It has been up in the lobby of the Legion for the past month.

"I'm real proud of it," said Mackedanz, who also has built flag holders and the young soldier on guard duty in the lobby.

The POW/MIA display includes a table, a tablecloth, an empty chair, a rose, a slice of lemon, salt, a red ribbon, a candle, and an American flag. According to the Legion service manual, each item has meaning:

The table is small, symbolizing the frailty of one prisoner, alone against his or her supppressors.

The tablecloth is white, symbolic of the purity of their intentions to respond to their country's call to arms.

The single rose in the vase signifies the blood they may have to shed in sacrifice to ensure the freedom of our beloved United States of America. This rose also reminds us of the family and friends of our missing comrades who keep faith, while awaiting their return.

The red ribbon on the vase represents the red ribbons worn on the lapels of the thousands who demand, with unyielding determination, a proper account of our comrades who are not among us.

A slice of lemon on the plate reminds us of their bitter fate.

The salt sprinkled on the plate reminds us of the countless fallen tears of families as they wait.

The glass is inverted; they cannot toast with us at this time.

The chair is empty. They are NOT here.

The candle is reminiscent of the light of hope which lives in our hearts to illuminate their way home, away from their captors, to open arms of a grateful nation.

The American flag reminds us that many of them may never return - and have paid the supreme sacrifice to insure our freedom.

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