SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Thursday, the San Diego chapter of American Ex-Prisoners of War held a ceremony commemorating the 10th anniversary of the POW statue, titled 'The Liberation Moment,' at the Miramar National Cemetery in San Deigo.
For the past decade, the monument of a battered soldier surrounded by a broken fence and barbed wire, has served as a reminder of the dangers soldiers endure while fighting for our freedom.
“Freedom is not free. You always have to pay a price for everything," James Kell, Commander of the American Ex-Prisoners of War San Diego Chapter, said.
When designing the monument years ago, Kell said they wanted it to be different from other POW statues.
“Throughout the country, if you look at national cemeteries where they have POW statues, the POW is either in submission, on his knees, head down," he said.
Instead, the monument depicts a malnourished prisoner of war freed from captivity with his hand over his face looking up towards the sky blinded by the sun, illustrating the moment of liberation.
"POWs go through a lot, but they come out of it ... a lot of them didn't come out of it and we also have to keep them in mind," Kell said.
Kell experienced captivity himself as a POW on the USS Pueblo captured by North Korea in 1968.
"Continuous psychological torture. Eleven months was all it was, but it seemed like eleven years," he recalled.
The 10th anniversary comes as the Miramar National Cemetery undergoes its largest expansion in years.
Greta Hamilton, the cemetery's director, said additions include 10,000 in-ground and above-ground cremation sites. They'll also add around three thousand caskets for America's fallen heroes and their families.
The expansion is expected to be completed by November 2022.