SLIDELL - To this day, more than 83,000 American war veterans, dating as far back as World War II, remain unaccounted for.
Friday, those Prisoners of War, or Missing In Action, were being recognized across the country.
"The helmet is placed on top of the rifle, signifying that the battle is over and the great sacrifice has been made," read Vietnam Veteran Ed Lewis.
The "Battlefield Cross" is a way for those stuck in the heat of war to recognize a fellow service member's final stand for their country. Today this gesture is the only kind more than 1,600 Vietnam War veterans have received, as they remain on a list of unaccounted POW/MIA.
"Due to the brutal nature of war, ships lost at sea, planes down without contact, we know that all the missing will never come home. So we set aside this day to honor and remember," said Mickey Carroll, Veterans of Foreign Wars Louisiana Jr. Vice Commander.
The Ride of the Brotherhood organization has taken steps to change that. Following a 2016 trip to Vietnam for research and relationship building between governments, Lewis, the founder, said significant progress is being made.
"Last year, our government, through the assistance of different organizations like History Flights, who works and recovers World War II and Korea veterans, last year they recovered 72 sets of remains on the Island of Tarawa," he said.
The organization is hoping to see more support to continue these efforts and for veterans who did make it home.
"Every soldier takes an oath to defend his country, to fight for his country, to die for his country, but not to be forgotten by his country," said Lewis.
The Ride of the Brotherhood is holding a free "Rally to Remember" Saturday at Northshore Mall in Slidell. The event starts at 10 a.m. and will feature a car show, music and an opportunity to donate to the group's effort to return POW/MIA remains.
© 2017 WWL-TV