Belmont looking into placing special empty chair at town hall to symbolize POWs & MIAs

BELMONT — After a presentation on Monday from Rolling Thunder, an national motorcycle club that advocates for the service men and women who are prisoners of war or missing in action, the town is developing a plan to put a specially designated empty chair in town hall.

The chair program, said Robert McGuiggan who made the presentation to selectmen, is one that designates an empty chair in a public place so people who see it will realize there will always be an empty chair as long as there are members of the military who are POWS or MIAs.

McGuggan said venues as large as Gillette Stadium, the Foxboro home of the New England Patriots, and as small as town's like Belmont have designated the single empty chair in a public place.

Town Administrator Jeanne Beaudin said yesterday that the town, at the suggestion of Selectman Jon Pike, who is a Vietnam veteran, is working with the Charles Kilbourn American Legion Post 58 to come up with a plan.

Beaudin said Town Assessing Assistant Cary Lagace has a chair that's in the town hall that she had previously refinished.

"She loves working with her hands and she has adopted this project on behalf of the town," Beaudoin said yesterday.

Beaudoin said her suggestion is to place the chair, which will be clearly marked as the empty chair for people who are POWs or MIA, to be under the Boston Post Cane in Town Hall.

Lagacy's idea, along with suggestions from the American Legion, will be brought to selectmen at their next meeting on January 24.