The third Friday of September has been designated as National POW/MIA Recognition Day. What does POW/MIA mean and how might that day be recognized?
”American Prisoners of War and those Missing in Action are heroes who have gone beyond courage and duty to an honored place in the souls of their fellow Americans. They symbolize the kind of singular sacrifice and devotion that has repeatedly proven instrumental in shaping our Nation’s destiny. This country will never forget nor fail to honor those who have so courageously garnered our highest regard, Now, Therefore, I, Ronald Reagan, President of the United States of America, do hereby designate April 9, 1983, as National POW-MIA Recognition Day, a day dedicated to all former American prisoners of war, to those still missing, and to their families.”
In observance of this day, ceremonies are held throughout the nation to honor those service members who have yet to return home and within many veterans service organizations a ceremonial POW/MIA table holds a place of honor. The table represents a place that is held for those who have not yet returned from war. Each item displayed on this table is symbolic of the trials of those missing service members.
As a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States Auxiliary, I am asking you to take a moment and reflect on the sacrifices made by the military men and women who are/were imprisoned or unaccounted for as a result of their military service.
When we fly the familiar black and white flag with “You Are Not Forgotten” written on it, we are reminded of our government’s sacred obligation to the men and women we place in harm’s way — that we never leave our fallen behind.
The difficult job of identifying the remains and bringing them home falls on the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, headquartered at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. The agency’s mission is to account for Americans listed as POW or MIA from all past wars and conflicts. As of May 2014, America has missing: WWII 73,624; Korea 7,700; Vietnam 1,642; Cold War 126; Operation El Dorado Canyon 1; Operation Desert Storm 2; Operation Iraqi Freedom 3.
Between 1990 and 2005, a repatriation agreement between the U.S. and North Korea resulted in the return of 229 sets of remains. Then in 2005 due to security reasons, the U.S. suspended its recovery mission.
Before the June 12 meeting between President Trump and Kim Jong Un, the VFW sent a letter to President Trump asking him to include the repatriation of U.S. service members as part of his negotiations. He did.
I along with other patriots were hopeful and encouraged when in July 2018, North Korea returned 55 boxes of remains believed to be U.S. service members who have been missing in action since the Korean War.
The families of our missing in action deserve closure and those warriors deserve proper military honors and recognition. They paid the ultimate sacrifice — they gave all.
My humanitarian contribution, and I hope yours also, will be to never forget America’s POW/MIAs.
Americanism Program Chairman,
Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States
Auxiliary 2145, Clarion