Friday, September 21st and every third Friday of September is POW/MIA Recognition Day, a day of remembrance and hope for the safe return of American Prisoners of War, and those still Missing in Action. The first official commemoration of POW/MIAs was on July 18, 1979and was the result of resolutions passed in Congress. The first national ceremony was held on that date. Over the next few years, the commemoration was held on varying dates of the year. But, finally, in 1986, The National League of Families proposed the third Friday in September as a day to recognize and remember POW/MIAs. This date was selected since it was a date not associated with any particular war, or in conjunction with any organizations’ annual meetings/national convention. Even though it is a designated remembrance day each year, the President of the United States issues a proclamation on this day.
National POW/MIA Recognition Day was established to honor Americans held as Prisoners of War and to renew our nation’s commitment to account for US personnel still missing from our nation’s past wars and conflicts
On National POW/MIA Recognition Day, ceremonies take place across the country and around the world to honor and remember our nation’s Prisoners of War and our unreturned veterans, America’s MIAs. The focus is to ensure that America remembers its responsibility to stand behind those who serve our nation and do everything possible to account for those who do not return.
Some accounts of POW MIAs include: (Counts vary depending on source, so some of these may be skewed)
Civil War - Union: POW/MIA - 194,743 Civil War - Confederacy: POW/MIA - 214,865
Spanish-American War: POW - 8 MIA - 72 World War I: POW/MIA - 7,470
World War II: POW - 124,079 MIA - 30,314
Cold War Era: POW - Classified MIA - 343
Korean War: POW - 7,140 MIA - 8,177
Vietnam War: POW - 766 MIA - 1,817
Persian Gulf War: POWs - 29 MIA – 20
One can find a name of a POW or MIA at http://www.powmiaff.com/honor_page_form.html
One sign of recognition on this day is the flying of the POW MIA flag on this day. Federal law requires the POW/MIA flag to be flown on other days as well:
- Armed Forces Day, May 16
- Memorial Day, May 25
- Flag Day, June 14
- Independence Day, July 4
- POW/MIA Day, 3rd Friday of September
- Veterans Day, Nov. 11
The POW/MIA flag will be flown at all US Post office buildings, Veterans Administration, military memorial facilities, and many U.S. government buildings.
In the Central Bucks area, the VFW Post 175 of Doylestown will be present at all three Central Bucks High School and the Doylestown Court House building to demonstrate the Missing Man Ceremony or answer questions about the day to heighten the awareness and the significance of the day.
The Missing Man Ceremony is as follows:
The moderator begins:
As you entered the dining area, you may have noticed a table – raised to call your attention to its purpose – it is reserved to honor our missing loved one.
Set for six, the empty places represent Americans who were or are missing from each of the five services – Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard – and civilians, all with us in spirit.
Some here were very young when the Vietnam War began; however, all Americans should never forget the brave men and women who answered our nation’s call and served the cause of freedom in a special way.
Please be seated… while I explain the meaning of this special table, and join me for a moment of silent prayer at the end.
The table is round – to show our everlasting concern.
The cloth is white – symbolizing the purity of their motives when answering the call to duty.
The single red rose reminds us of the lives of these men….and their loved ones and friends who keep the faith, while seeking answers.
The red ribbon symbolizes our continued determination to account for them.
A slice of lemon reminds us of the bitter fate of those captured and missing in a foreign land.
A pinch of salt symbolizes the tears of our missing and their families who long for answers after decades of uncertainty.
The Bible represents the strength gained through faith in our country, founded as one nation under God, to sustain those lost from our midst.
The glass is inverted – to symbolize their inability to share this evening’s toast.
The chairs are empty – they are missing…………….. (silent moment)
Let us now raise our water glasses in a toast to honor America’s POW/MIA’s and to the success of our efforts to account for them.
A youtube video can be seen at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z0a8ng37SsQ
Please take a few moments on September 21st and on every third Friday in September to remember our missing soldiers, and those held as prisoners of war. Attend a ceremony in your area. Say a prayer for POWs and MIAs. Also, write to your senators and congressman to urge continued and increased effort towards bringing every service man and woman home.