The Veterans Affairs Hospital in Buffalo hosted a ceremony Thursday morning to recognize former prisoners of war and those still missing in action.
Speakers praised former prisoners of war as examples of living history, as those who set examples of remaining courageous under extreme conditions and who returned home to lead productive lives.
"They demonstrated to us, those who haven't had the experience, the most amazing gift of all and that's courage," said Brian Stiller, a veteran and now medical center director at the VA Hospital in Buffalo. "Courage to bear with it, to keep going and to get through and to come to another place, a new start and new life, and share that experience and that courage."
There was also recognition of the many Americans who have remained missing in action, dating back to World War II.
"Some 89,000 of our fellow countrymen still remain unaccounted for, from World War II to the wars in Korea and Vietnam, the Cold War and the first Persian Gulf war," said Thomas Dolata, a clinical nurse specialist in the VA's post-traumatic stress disorder program and the ceremony's keynote speaker.
"Incredibly, more than 78,000 of those are from World War II, which ended 70 years ago."
The ceremony coincides with the anniversary of the fall of Bataan in World War II. Following that 1942 battle, thousands of U.S. and Filipino prisoners were forced to walk in what became known as the "Bataan Death March." Hundreds of American captives died before reaching their prisons.