After nearly 50 years since its construction, the Flame of Hope Memorial on Oceana Boulevard received repairs and was rededicated during a ceremony Feb. 3.
Naval Air Station Oceana held the ceremony after necessary repairs were made to rededicate the monument to the Prisoners of War and Missing in Action who still have yet to return home.
Volunteers from Navy Construction Battalions 4 and 5 built the Flame of Hope memorial on May 22, 1972. The Oceana wives of the They’re Not Forgotten Committee and the Virginia Beach Jaycees sponsored the memorial’s construction.
Members of the Virginia Beach Jaycees gathered to repair the concrete portion of the Flame’s sconce and re-stand the park’s flagpole, which was toppled during a storm in October 2019.
U.S. Representative for Virginia’s 2nd congressional district and U.S. Navy veteran, Elaine Luria, was in attendance and spoke during the ceremony.
“The Jaycees have made priceless contributions to our community, including, but not limited to, this monument,” said Luria. “The Flame of Hope Memorial has stood here since 1972 and remains a sacred landmark for POWs and MIAs, who we have not forgotten, but who have never came home.”
Naval Air Station Oceana commanding officer, Capt. John Hewitt, said the Flame of Hope will remain as a beacon to all who remain missing and as a reminder to never forget their sacrifices.
“This rededication is our moment to bring a renewed attention to the community’s commitment to our service members who have fought for the United States and who still remain unaccounted for,” said Hewitt.
Flame of Hope restoration chairman of the Virginia Beach Jaycees, Brandon T. Bledsoe, said this project is only the beginning of the park’s restoration.
Bledsoe said he’s excited for the future of the Flame of Hope memorial park.
“This is ‘phase 1’ of a much bigger project,” said Bledsoe. “We’re hoping to turn this park into a much more useable space for the community to celebrate our service members and reflect on those who haven’t returned home.”