20th Anniversary Of The NJ S.A.L. POW/MIA Watchfire And POW/MIA Recognition Day

by Valerie, Mom Knows It All

Some posts on this site contain an affiliate link. Clicking on an affiliate link does not increase the cost of the product if you buy it. It does mean that I MAY make a commission if you purchase the item. Affiliate links are used in an attempt to offset the operational costs incurred by running this website. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Last Friday night at 7 pm a crowd gathered on the beach of Seaside Heights, NJ. They weren’t there for a concert, or a party, or to try and catch the cast of Jersey Shore. They were there for the 20th Anniversary of the NJ S.A.L. POW/MIA Watchfire.

Watchfire 1

In simple terms, the POW/MIA Watchfire is an annual ceremony that my father organizes for the Sons Of The American Legion in order to honor and remember the more than 73,000 American POW/MIAs, and raise awareness.

See this small section of flags? It represents a group of POW/MIAs from New Jersey. Imagine 73,000 of them. Staggering, isn’t it?

American Flags For Jersey Missing

Early in the afternoon, before the ceremony starts, a backhoe comes and digs a giant pit. Pallets are also delivered, to keep the fire burning.

Watchfire Pit

And when i say pallets, I mean a lot of pallets.

Watchfire Pallets

At 7 pm, before the sun goes down, the bonfire is started.

Watchfire Starting Fire

The fire is fed all night. It is not permitted to go out.

Watchfire Burning

Once the fire is lit the ceremonies begin. Through the night flags are retired. People collect them throughout the year and bring them. This pile isn’t even a small amount of how many there are. I saw them come in by the truckload.

Watchfire Flags To Be Retired

Another part of the ceremony is the table for one. It’s touching and sad. Everything on the table has a meaning.

Watchfire Table For One

Even my youngest understands this is a solemn ceremony. But he does have the most adorable salute.

Watchfire Cj Saluting

I am so proud of my Dad for everything he does to make this ceremony happen. I admire his determination and dedication. He has allowed the Watchfire to not go off. There was even one year that there was a hurricane and the beach was closed. Dad held an indoor Watchfire with candles. I appreciate what he does and I know that families with POW.MIAs appreciate it as well. Thanks Dad. I love you.

Today is POW/MIA Recognition Day but know this. POW/MIAs deserve to be remembered every day. They gave everything for everything we have.

Here’s some video footage from this year’s Watchfire. I truly hope you’ll take the time to watch it.

The fire now burns 365 days a year at NJWatchfire.com


pat.navymom September 18, 2010 - 7:58 am

Dear Val,
Your pictorial captures the spirit and intent of those committed to our POW/MIA’s. Thank you for your help and support over the years. I know how much it means much to a man who lives for God and Country and wants only the best for it and its citizens. Public awareness is good for those who serve America. We must choose to remember not forget everything our armed forces–returning or worse not–have done throughout our country’s history.

valmg September 20, 2010 - 3:55 am

You’re welcome Mom. It’s my pleasure and the least I can do, for family and for them.

tom September 18, 2010 - 9:03 am

Thanks Val


valmg September 20, 2010 - 3:54 am

You’re welcome Dad. I love you.


Leave a Comment