The 1st District of the Wisconsin American Legion is comprised of 45 posts from five counties in southeastern Wisconsin. Every year since September 1984, the 1st District Legionnaires, along with all other veterans and civilians, have rendered respect for those who may still be serving this country as a POW or are classified as Missing in Action. This tribute takes the form of a Silent March.
The Silent March is best described as a quiet, solemn procession. The participants walk in unison with reverent silence and the only sound to be heard is a lone drumbeat. It is not a parade with marching bands, sirens and a great deal of fanfare. All veterans and the general public are invited to participate. The distance traveled is usually up to one mile.
The march concludes with a ceremony that includes guest speakers, a presentation of the POW/MIA table ceremony, and a reading of the names of Wisconsin veterans who are still MIA from Vietnam. Each name is accompanied by the toll of a bell and the release of a black balloon. A balloon is also released for MIAs from World War II, the Korean War, the Cold War and the Gulf War. It is usually a very moving observance and an appropriate manner in which to show our respect for those who have made the ultimate sacrifice while in captivity and for those missing in action whose fate is still undetermined.
Attendance at the March has been growing ever since Congress established the third Friday in September as National POW/MIA Recognition Day. The 1st District Silent March takes place on the next day and is hosted each time by a different Legion post within the 1st District.
This year's march marks 30 years of remembrance and will be hosted by Frank Kresen Post 24, Lake Geneva, on Sept. 20. It’s an event that is the highlight of the year for the district. Other districts in the state as well as around the country are always encouraged to host their own marches. We shall never forget and we must push for a full accounting of all our servicemen and women.
For more information about the Silent March, contact 1st District POW/MIA Chairman Bob Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org