Thursday, February 26, 2015

Sun Pulls Up A Chair For Missing Vets

First American Paper To Honor POW/MIAs In Empty-Seat Effort
By Todd Feathers

LOWELL — Local veterans gathered in The Sun’s lobby Wednesday to dedicate an empty black chair as a reminder of the estimated 90,000 or more veterans who remain missing in action or prisoners of war. The POW/MIA chair, which will sit outside the newspaper’s offices in the American Textile History Museum at 491 Dutton St., is the first of its kind at an American newspaper, said John MacDonald of Lowell, vice president of Veterans Assisting Veterans. The symbolic chairs have spread in recent years through sports stadiums, businesses and the halls of government in honor of the missing veterans.

“I want to thank you for The Sun, not only for your years of service defending our country, but as role models,” Editor Jim Campanini told the crowd, which included more than two dozen veterans. “I’m very proud to see this exhibit here that will hopefully endure forever.” 


SUN/RYAN MCBRIDE Veterans and other dignitaries gather outside The Sun’s offices on Dutton Street in Lowell where the newspaper dedicated a POW/MIA chair for veterans with help from the Veterans Assisting Veterans group Wednesday afternoon. VAV President Dennis Moschella addresses the crowd. The chair will be on permanent display outside the newspaper’s doors. Watch video at

Among those at the ceremony was Barbara Grzyb, of Lowell, whose brother, Robert, was captured in 1967 and held in a Cambodian prison camp. His family still does not know what happened to him.

Grzyb carried with her a blue folder held shut by a clasp bearing a black-and white photograph of Robert in his Army uniform. The folder contains documentation of her ongoing search for his remains.

In it, she carries pictures of men believed to be guards at the prison camp where Robert was held and a painful report from the Joint POW/MIAAccounting Command that suggests his body may have been used as a medical cadaver at a Vietnamese hospital after his death.

“Nobody actually realizes what a family member goes through,” Grzyb said.

She compared the years of pain, the desire for some knowledge of her brother’s fate, to searching for a missing child.

“I made a promise to bring him home,” Grzyb said. “He was born here, he lived here, he deserves to come home.”

Others, like Joe Zangri of Dracut, who served in the Air Force from 1960 to 1964, find it hard to speak about their comrades who were lost oversees. The vacant POW/MIAchairs offer him reassurance that those men and women are not forgotten.

“They’re the real heroes,” Zangri said.

The chair is flanked by an American and black POW/MIA flags and surrounded by a red velvet rope.

“It is my hope that the visitors to this space on Dutton Street will take a moment to pause and reflect on those lives,” City Councilor Corey Belanger said.

All of the exhibit’s components were donated by Veterans Assisting Veterans, a peer support group that first suggested that The Sun house the exhibit, and the folding chair was also specifically chosen to be easily transportable for educational functions.

The Sun is honored to be a proud partner in this effort,” said Mark O’Neil, the paper’s president and publisher. “We owe all of our veterans and their families so much reverence and gratitude.”

John MacDonald, of VFW Post 662 and CEO of Big Decisions, speaks to veterans and other guests outsid e The Sun’s offices Wednesday afternoon, where the newspaper dedicated an empty chair to POW/MIAs. The chair is a symbol of the more than 90,000 veterans whose whereabouts are unkown and are listed as either prisoners of war or missing in action. At right is Dennis Moschella, president of Veterans Assisting Veterans.

                                               Lowell veteran Bob Page reflects during a ceremony dedicating
                                                   a POW/MIA chair outside The Sun’s offices on Wednesday. 
                                                       Watch exclusive video on this story at

No comments:

Post a Comment