Permanently empty seat at Gillette to honor American POWs, MIAs

On Friday, the New England Patriots and New England Revolution will become the first teams in the major professional sports leagues to leave a spectator’s seat permanently unoccupied in their stadium to honor servicemen and servicewomen who have been listed as prisoners of war or missing in action.

Since World War I, more than 92,000 American military personnel have gone unaccounted for, according to The Kraft Group, which owns Gillette Stadium in Foxborough. The designation of the seat at the stadium comes as Americans prepare for Veterans Day on Sunday.

“We have always felt a special connection with our military and saw this seat dedication as a unique way to recognize and honor those soldiers who served, but never returned home,” said chairman and CEO Robert Kraft, in a news release.  “We hope the seat will serve as a constant reminder for fans attending games at Gillette Stadium that whomever we’re rooting for, we are all Patriots.”

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The empty black seat above the south end zone will be marked by a plaque recognizing the sacrifice of the POWs and MIAs. Kraft and Joe D’Entremont, president of the Massachusetts Chapter 1 of the Rolling Thunder, will participate in the 10 a.m. dedication, a private ceremony open to the news media only. They will be accompanied by approximately 50 members of the Rolling Thunder, who will enter Gillette Stadium on their motorcycles.

The motorcycle group’s mission is “to educate, facilitate, and never forget . . . service members that were abandoned after the Vietnam War,’’ according to its national website. It has also evolved into a group for display of patriotism and respect for all who defend the country, it said.