BRUNSWICK — American Legion Post 20 held an empty-chair ceremony Sept. 15 at the Town Mall to honor National POW/MIA Recognition Day.

The ceremony is a symbol of waiting for the return of soldiers who were either Prisoners of War or Missing in Action, and is a reminder of the many men and women in the armed services who have not come home.

The day of recognition is especially timely, given the recent return of World War II Veteran Alberic M. Blanchette’s remains to his family in Caribou, 74 years after his death during an assault on Tarawa in 1943.

“There are still people out there,” said Brunswick Town Councilor Dave Watson, a member of Post 20 and a veteran of the Air Force.

The ceremony is simple: Current and former service members of each of the five branches of the military gather around a table with five empty chairs. Each chair represents a seat left open for the service member that hasn’t returned home. Those chairs are to remain empty as long as there are men and women still out there, to show that they haven’t been forgotten.

The honoring of POW/MIA started in 1971, when Mary Hoff, wife of a MIA service member, organized the movement to recognize soldiers. The flag, emblazoned with the phrase “You are not forgotten,” is the only flag aside from the American flag to fly over the nation’s capital.

The ceremony is an important part of remembering service members who gave everything for the nation, said Chick Ciciotte. “It was nice to see our military people here,” he said.

Watson said that Brunswick has a long history of military tradition, and remembering that history is important. “If we don’t know our history, we can’t learn from it.”