HILLSBORO, Mo. – A special evening at Hillsboro High School Friday night honored prisoners of war and those missing in action.
There were moments designed to evoke emotion in spectators at Hillsboro High School’s first POW and MIA night.
Pictures of those who served lined the field, crowds donned special shirts, bells rang and a helicopter flew over to mark the importance of the event.
An air of respect washed over the crowds as they learned about servicemen and servicewomen who made the ultimate sacrifice.
“People don’t realize that there’s 82,000 still missing, so it’s important for our kids to understand that their freedom is not free and comes at a price,” Hillsboro Intermediate School Principal said.
Hillsboro R-3 School District is the first and only POW/MIA designated campus in the country. The district’s goal is to increase awareness and educate students and the community about those lost.
One of the most famous heroes honored at the ceremony was airman Michael Blassie.
A total of 14 bells ring in honor of the 14 years Blassie spent at Arlington National Cemetery at the tomb of the unknown soldier.
“He served his country and he deserves his name. We believe that and that’s why we fought so diligently to recognize him,” Michael Blassie’s sister said.
Michael Blassie was a St. Louis resident and a pilot during the Vietnam war. His remains were finally identified in 1998 through DNA testing.
He was moved to Jefferson Barracks where his remains now lie near the museum for POW and MIA in St. Louis.
His younger sister, Patricia Blassie, and the rest of the Blassie family received special dog tags and football helmets for his heroism.
“We were overwhelmed with what we saw. We came here with just ourselves and we’re leaving with so much more, having met so many people committed to the issue of POW and MIA and so many young people that care,” Patricia Blassie said.
That dedication to making sure POW and MIA are never forgotten is the reason people cheer and pledge allegiance to the flag that so many fought for.
The school plans to do more events like these throughout the rest of the school year. They hope the more they do, the more people will keep the promise to never forget.