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POW/MIA chair dedicated at courthouse

Rich Cholodofsky
| Thursday, May 25, 2017, 5:24 p.m.
Matt Zamosky, director of the Westmoreland County Veterans Affairs Office, adjusts the velvet rope surrounding an empty chair, called the “You are Not Forgotten” chair, in the courthouse lobby on May 25, 2017. Photo credit: Rich Cholodofsky
Matt Zamosky, director of the Westmoreland County Veterans Affairs Office, adjusts the velvet rope surrounding an empty chair, called the “You are Not Forgotten” chair, in the courthouse lobby on May 25, 2017. Photo credit: Rich Cholodofsky

A permanent reminder of the service men and women who were prisoners of war or never returned home was dedicated Thursday at the Westmoreland County Courthouse.

An empty black chair flanked by United States and Pennsylvania flags, along with banners for prisoners of war and those missing in action, was situated in the front corner of the courthouse lobby.

“We just wanted to make sure these men and women were never forgotten,” said Clarence Fisher, president of the local chapter of Rolling Thunder Inc., which donated the chair and helps veterans in need.

Westmoreland County is home to about 34,000 veterans. Matt Zamosky, director of the county's veterans affairs office, said there is no estimate as to how many local residents served as prisoners of war or are missing in action.

Zamosky said the chair will honor the 191,000 veterans throughout the United States who were prisoners of war and as a reminder of the 91,000 soldiers missing in action.

The chair carries an inscription: “This unoccupied seat is dedicated to the memory of those brave men and women and to the sacrifices each made servicing this country.”

Rolling Thunder donated similar chairs to courthouses in Greene and Fayette counties.

Commissioner Charles Anderson, a retired Marine Corps colonel, read a proclamation dedicating West-moreland's chair as members of the honor guard from the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 33 in Greensburg presented the colors and flags.

Zamosky said the POW/MIA chair fits in among the many veterans tributes at the courthouse, including a plaque at the front entrance honoring soldiers killed during World War I and a bronze statue of a Civil War-era solider atop a 20-foot pedestal in the courtyard.

“The courthouse is an appropriate place to honor veterans. This chair serves as a reminder,” Zamosky said.

Rich Cholodofsky is aTribune-Review staff writer.

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