FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE September 18, 2015
Dave Parker, Communications Director, 444.9844
Mike Wessler, Deputy Communications Director, 444.9725
Helena, Mont—In honor of National POW/MIA Recognition Day Governor Steve Bullock today was joined by Sue MacPherson of Butte, and Adjutant General Matthew Quinn, at a ceremony to rededicate the Freedom Tree and Montana MIA plaque on that capitol grounds. The memorial recognizes Montana’s twenty-two Vietnam veterans who are missing in action.
“We must never forget the sacrifices made by the twenty two soldiers honored by this memorial, as well as those made by all servicemen and women from Montana,” Bullock said. “This memorial is an enduring reminder of those who were killed or captured while serving our state and nation.”
The memorial was initially dedicated by Montanans Do Care in 1973. At the time of the initial dedication, thirteen soldiers were honored. In addition to the initial soldiers, today’s ceremony also recognized nine servicemen not listed on the initial plaque.
The rededication was spearheaded by Sue MacPherson of Butte. MacPherson was on hand at the initial dedication in 1973. During a visit to the Capitol in 2014, she saw that the memorial had fallen into disrepair. She raised funds to refurbish it, gathered donated materials, coordinated volunteer labor to refurbish it and worked with Bullock’s office to secure approval for the improvements.
“These brave men sacrificed so much in the name of service to our state and nation,” said MacPherson, whose childhood friend, Captain Robert Holton is one of the soldiers honored by the memorial. “I’m heartened by the outpouring of support that I’ve seen in this effort to ensure that this memorial remains a fitting tribute to Montana’s POW/MIAs.”
In April 2013, Bullock issued an executive order to have the POW/MIA flag flown over the Montana Capitol indefinitely or until all unaccounted and missing members of the American Armed Forces are returned home. He later signed a bill making the order law. In May 2014, Bullock named a portion of Highway 287, east of Helena, the POW/MIA Memorial Highway, to honor Montanans missing or captured in service to our nation.