SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — The third Friday of every September honors those service members who were prisoners of war and those who are still missing in action, since and including World War II.

Emmet Park in Savannah was filled with emotion as the local chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of America hosted service members and their friends and family to honor those who endured the unthinkable and never returned home.

“You never want to forget. You never want to forget the people that actually went and who spent time in captivity, or the ones they still haven’t come home,” Joe Higgins, Chairman of the Chatham County Veterans Council.

The Department of Defense reports, that over 81,000 U.S. service members are still missing in action. About 75 percent are in the Indo-Pacific region. 30 of those service members are from Savannah.

Savannah Mayor Van Johnson says it is important for the community to support those families in the area who are without their loved ones.

“It’s a sense of pride, but it’s the city’s obligation for us to make sure that we’re not only remembering those folks but also supporting their families and their loved ones. Holidays and birthdays have never really been the same,” Mayor Johnson says.

Joe Higgins spoke at the ceremony remembering his fellow service members who died beside him and honoring them on this day.

“We’re lucky enough to still be standing here and be able to tell our story. It means the world to us to be able to tell their stories to the people that never didn’t come back,” Higgins says.