SMYRNA, Tenn. (WKRN) — Though not physically here, their sacrifice is not forgotten.

Friday is National Prisoner of War (POW) and Missing in Action (MIA) Recognition Day. In honor of those who served our nation, a special ceremony was held in Smyrna.

On the third Friday of September, commemorations are held across the country to honor and remember POW/MIA and their families. On Friday, six veterans were honored at a ceremony in Smyrna hosted by the Department of Veterans Affairs Tennessee Valley Healthcare System.

It was a time to remember those prisoners of war and missing in action who made sacrifices we won’t soon forget. This includes the sacrifices of Ralph Rogers of the 83rd Division 331 Infantry Company E. From Jan. 13 to April 29, 1945, Rogers was a prisoner of war during the Battle of the Bulge – the largest war the U.S. army has ever fought.

“We lost a lot of men in there. We were in a reconnaissance patrol, and we were to find the enemy and to go out and report back what we saw, but we got caught off and got captured,” said Rogers.

All of the men with Rogers, who were injured at the time of their capture, were killed. In Belgium, enduring unthinkable and severely cold weather conditions, the World War II veteran did everything he could to stay alive while being marched to an encampment.

“I lost my left foot. It froze and got infected, and they didn’t have anything to treat it with,” said Rogers.

He said during that time, he prayed to God he would be released and if He were to rescue him, he would spend the rest of his life doing what he could to be a good man.

Rogers was eventually freed. He took with him a reminder of his time as a POW – a limb from a tree near where he was captured, that he now uses as a walking cane.

“We didn’t have much to eat. I weighed 87 pounds when I got back to Paris, France.”

During Friday’s ceremony in Smyrna, many gathered to remember those who still have not made it home. The gathering was marked with a presentation including posting of the colors, the National Anthem, prayer, and a gift presentation.

“Nationally we still have over 81,000 POW/MIA’s that are still missing, unaccounted for,” said Commissioner Tommy H. Baker of the Tennessee Department of Veterans Services.

Of the Americans who never returned home at the end of World War II, the Korean war, the cold War, the Vietnam War, and the Gulf Wars, nearly half are presumed to be lost at sea. Local leaders hope generations to come will feel inspired by those who’ve gone before.

“As our military numbers draw lower and lower in society of those who serve, you have to have that community that comes together, men and women that have put it all on the line for the rest of us, and we don’t ever need to forget that,” said Baker.

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Now 97 years old, World War II is a period of history Rogers will never forget, along with his promise to God that he made and kept.

“Try to do good and treat everybody well and…be a good man,” said Rogers.