PLATTSBURGH - How long would you wait for a loved one? A day? A year?
How about 59 years?
That's how long Ethel Bick has been waiting for her husband, Myron, to receive his Purple Heart, which he earned during the Korean War.
Ethel's wait was over as she was recently presented the medal in her husband's honor in a ceremony at Lakeview Towers. The surprise ceremony, which Ethel was led to believe was going to be a birthday celebration, was attended by local military and veteran officials, as well as family, friends and people who wanted to pay their respects.
Myron was one of many who became prisoners or war, known as POWs, during the Korean War, and never returned.
"When they were captured at Chuan-Li, it was in November," Ethel said. "There was no food."
Ethel said her husband, who was a veteran by the time he got to Korea, already had health problems from past wars.
"He had trench foot from World War II," Ethel said. "He had two bronze stars; one in WWII and one in Korea."
Ethel said her husband earned one of the stars when he hurled two hand grenades into enemy territory, all the while exposing his position on open ground.
"He loved the service," Ethel said. "He was very military-oriented."
Steve Bowman, director of the Clinton County Veterans Service Agency, was one of the people who assisted the ceremony, and was the person who actually handed over the Purple Heart to Ethel.
"This means the world to her, and this means a lot me to be able to be a part of presenting this Purple Heart," Bowman said.
Although the occasion should be joyous, Bowman said it is also a reminder of those POWs who were never found. And, to this day, Myron's remains have not been found.
Ethel said she would make it her final mission to find and lay Myron to rest.
With organizations around the world that help people find POWs and those missing in action, Bowman said people like Ethel should "never give up."
Michael O'Keefe is an intern with the State University of New York at Plattsburgh.