A new National Prisoner of War Museum is a poignant memorial long overdue.
Located in Andersonville, Ga., the facility honors the estimated 800,000 American POWs and will be dedicated April 9. That date coincides with the anniversary of the beginning of the horrible Bataan Death March of United States prisoners in World War II. Many of the nation's estimated 56,000 surviving prisoners of war are expected to attend the dedication.All of them, and those who have passed on, deserve thanks for enduring often inhumane treatment and conditions while fighting for freedoms now enjoyed in relative peace. In the apropos words of Arizona Sen. John McCain: "Some of the most terrible and difficult sacrifices undergone by fighting men and women have been as POWs. We should always be reminded of their service."
He should know, having spent more than five years captive in Hanoi after being shot down over Vietnam.
Besides enduring sometimes barbarous treatment - including torture - many prisoners of war experienced untold hours of isolation, boredom and loneliness. They lived with ever-present uncertainty of what the next hour might bring or whether they would ever again taste freedom.
With some, the scars from such abuses take many forms. In that there is no shame. Others have been able to put such incidents behind them and adjust more easily, gaining strength and unique insights through their experiences. Of course, many died in captivity from hardships and cruelty. They deserve reverent remembrance.
The National Prisoner of War Museum appropriately provides this for all POWs - from the Revolution to the Persian Gulf War.