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Tomorrow is POW-MIA Recognition Day

466px-United_States_POW-MIA_flag.svgThe third Friday of each September is set aside by law, as National POW-MIA Recognition Day, and today I want to cover the protocol for flying the POW-MIA flag. Tomorrow I’ll write about the flag, and how it came to be, and what it means to Americans.

Tomorrow the U.S. Flag flies at full staff, with the POW-MIA flag, on the same pole flying directly underneath. Federal and military installations do not fly state flags, which is why the POW-MIA flag flies on the same pole.

The 105th Congress designated by law, with the passage of Section 1082(g) within the 1998 Defense Authorization Act—(linked here, but I have included the entire text at the end of this article), that the POW-MIA flag is to be flown at all Federal and U.S. Military Installations on these six days: Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, POW-MIA Recognition Day, and Veterans Day. On holidays when the National flag is half-staffed, then the POW-MIA flag is half-staffed also.

The federal installations are:

The Capitol building and the White House, in Washington D.C.

The Korean War and Vietnam Veterans War Memorials,

Every National Cemetery

Any building containing the official offices of the Secretary of State

The offices of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs

The offices of the Director of the Selective Service System

Every Veterans Affairs Medical Center

Every U.S. Post Office (which are not permitted to fly state flags)

All national parks and national monument sites

The information below should be carefully noted because of the specificity.

(2) In addition to the days specified in paragraph (1) of this
    subsection, POW/MIA flag display days include –
        (A) in the case of display at the World War II Memorial, Korean
      War Veterans Memorial, and Vietnam Veterans Memorial (required by
      subsection (d)(3) of this section), any day on which the United
      States flag is displayed;
        (B) in the case of display at medical centers of the Department
      of Veterans Affairs (required by subsection (d)(7) of this
      section), any day on which the flag of the United States is
      displayed; and
        (C) in the case of display at United States Postal Service post
      offices (required by subsection (d)(8) of this section), the last
      business day before a day specified in paragraph (1) that in any
      year is not itself a business day.

Sections (A) and (B) mean that the POW-MIA flag is to always be flown at these locations on any day the U.S. flag is displayed. In practice, this would be very day of the year.

Section (C), which applies to U.S. Post Offices, means that the POW-MIA flag is to be flown the day before the designated holiday, if the day falls on a national holiday when the post office is not open (Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Veterans Day).

How should civilians fly the POW-MIA flag?

Last spring I contacted the office of one of my federal senators representing Texas, Sen. John Cornyn. I requested a finding from the Congressional Research Service, which exists to support members of Congress and their staffs on research inquiries. I received it in July.

I was flummoxed by the fact that the precise instructions for flying the POW-MIA flag only addresses federal and military installations, yet is carefully outlined in Title 36, Section 902 of the United States Code, which is written for civilians.

The Congressional Research Service was unable to find any further instruction regarding civilian flag protocol for the POW-MIA flag. Other VSOs (veterans service organizations) have asked for clarifying legislation, but nothing has changed yet. Civilian protocol is silent on this problem.

Incredibly, protocol for POW-MIA flag, the most highly esteemed flag of all VSOs, is not addressed for civilians in the U.S. Code, which is written for civilians. So it becomes necessary to establish a civilian POW-MIA flag protocol based on existing law.

Allow me to use the state of Texas as an example. All state flags may fly equal to, but never higher than the U.S. flag, if flown on separate poles. The Texas flag code says that only the U.S. flag can fly above the Texas flag, if the two flags are flown on the same pole.  According to the Texas flag code, the POW-MIA flag could never be flown above the Texas state flag. Other states follow the same protocol. The flag code never changes the order of precedence.

The Conclusion for civilians—how to do it

Civilians are not required to fly the POW-MIA flag, but if you want to, this is how to do it, after you sort out the flag code and flag precedence.

On the six designated holidays, when the U.S. Code calls for the POW-MIA flag to be flown underneath and next to the U.S. flag, and if there is only one flagpole in use, do not fly the state flag.

On the six designated holidays, if there are two poles in use, the POW-MIA flag flies underneath and next to the U.S. flag, and the state flag flies on the next pole. On non-holidays, the POW-MIA flag can still be flown underneath and next to the U.S. flag, because it is not higher than a state flag.

If there are three poles in use, and it is NOT one of the six designated POW-MIA flag flying days, then the POW-MIA flag would fly third in order of precedence, or on the third pole. It could still be flown underneath and next to the U.S. flag (which is the preferred position), and the third pole could be used for a city or corporate flag. The point is, the POW-MIA flag is never flown above a state flag, but may be flown equal to the U.S. flag, a state flag, and so on. If the location provides for many flagpoles and flags, then subsequent flags (after U.S. and state) are flown in order of congressional authorization (or incorporation), which is chronological.

I have come to this conclusion after detailed research and careful consultation with federal and military experts. It is a reasoned and thoughtful conclusion that adheres to the protocol and etiquette of all flags concerned, and in the absence of further legislation, I stand by it.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

CITE-
    36 USC CHAPTER 9 - MISCELLANEOUS                            01/02/2006

-EXPCITE-
    TITLE 36 - PATRIOTIC AND NATIONAL OBSERVANCES, CEREMONIES, AND
                ORGANIZATIONS                       
    Subtitle I - Patriotic and National Observances and Ceremonies
    Part A - Observances and Ceremonies
    CHAPTER 9 - MISCELLANEOUS

-HEAD-
                         CHAPTER 9 - MISCELLANEOUS                     

-MISC1-
    Sec.                                                     
    901.        Service flag and service lapel button.                
    902.        National League of Families POW/MIA flag.             
    903.        Designation of Medal of Honor Flag.                   

                                AMENDMENTS                            
      2002 - Pub. L. 107-248, title VIII, Sec. 8143(b)(2), Oct. 23,
    2002, 116 Stat. 1570, added item 903.

-End-



-CITE-
    36 USC Sec. 901                                             01/02/2006

-EXPCITE-
    TITLE 36 - PATRIOTIC AND NATIONAL OBSERVANCES, CEREMONIES, AND
                ORGANIZATIONS                       
    Subtitle I - Patriotic and National Observances and Ceremonies
    Part A - Observances and Ceremonies
    CHAPTER 9 - MISCELLANEOUS

-HEAD-
    Sec. 901. Service flag and service lapel button

-STATUTE-
      (a) Individuals Entitled To Display Service Flag. - A service
    flag approved by the Secretary of Defense may be displayed in a
    window of the place of residence of individuals who are members of
    the immediate family of an individual serving in the Armed Forces
    of the United States during any period of war or hostilities in
    which the Armed Forces of the United States are engaged.
      (b) Individuals Entitled To Display Service Lapel Button. - A
    service lapel button approved by the Secretary may be worn by
    members of the immediate family of an individual serving in the
    Armed Forces of the United States during any period of war or
    hostilities in which the Armed Forces of the United States are
    engaged.
      (c) License To Manufacture and Sell Service Flags and Service
    Lapel Buttons. - Any person may apply to the Secretary for a
    license to manufacture and sell the approved service flag, or the
    approved service lapel button, or both. Any person that
    manufactures a service flag or service lapel button without having
    first obtained a license, or otherwise violates this section is
    liable to the United States Government for a civil penalty of not
    more than $1,000.
      (d) Regulations. - The Secretary may prescribe regulations
    necessary to carry out this section.

-SOURCE-
    (Pub. L. 105-225, Aug. 12, 1998, 112 Stat. 1267.)

-MISC1-



                       HISTORICAL AND REVISION NOTES                   
    --------------------------------------------------------------------
      Revised       Source (U.S. Code)       Source (Statutes at Large) 
      Section                                                           
    --------------------------------------------------------------------
    901(a)         36:179.                 Oct. 17, 1942, ch. 615, 56   
                                            Stat. 796; May 27, 1953, ch.
                                            70, 67 Stat. 35.            
    901(b)         36:180.                                              
    901(c)         36:181.                                              
    901(d)         36:182.                                              
    --------------------------------------------------------------------

      In subsection (c), the text of 36:181 (1st sentence) is omitted
    as executed. The word "Thereafter" is omitted as obsolete. The
    words "is liable to the United States Government for a civil
    penalty of" are substituted for "shall, upon conviction thereof, be
    fined" for consistency in the revised title and with other titles
    of the United States Code.

-End-



-CITE-
    36 USC Sec. 902                                             01/02/2006

-EXPCITE-
    TITLE 36 - PATRIOTIC AND NATIONAL OBSERVANCES, CEREMONIES, AND
                ORGANIZATIONS                       
    Subtitle I - Patriotic and National Observances and Ceremonies
    Part A - Observances and Ceremonies
    CHAPTER 9 - MISCELLANEOUS

-HEAD-
    Sec. 902. National League of Families POW/MIA flag

-STATUTE-
      (a) Designation. - The National League of Families POW/MIA flag
    is designated as the symbol of our Nation's concern and commitment
    to resolving as fully as possible the fates of Americans still
    prisoner, missing, and unaccounted for in Southeast Asia, thus
    ending the uncertainty for their families and the Nation.
      (b) Required Display. - The POW/MIA flag shall be displayed at
    the locations specified in subsection (d) of this section on
    POW/MIA flag display days. The display serves - 
        (1) as the symbol of the Nation's concern and commitment to
      achieving the fullest possible accounting of Americans who,
      having been prisoners of war or missing in action, still remain
      unaccounted for; and
        (2) as the symbol of the Nation's commitment to achieving the
      fullest possible accounting for Americans who in the future may
      become prisoners of war, missing in action, or otherwise
      unaccounted for as a result of hostile action.

      (c) Days for Flag Display. - (1) For purposes of this section,
    POW/MIA flag display days are the following:
        (A) Armed Forces Day, the third Saturday in May.
        (B) Memorial Day, the last Monday in May.
        (C) Flag Day, June 14.
        (D) Independence Day, July 4.
        (E) National POW/MIA Recognition Day.
        (F) Veterans Day, November 11.

      (2) In addition to the days specified in paragraph (1) of this
    subsection, POW/MIA flag display days include - 
        (A) in the case of display at the World War II Memorial, Korean
      War Veterans Memorial, and Vietnam Veterans Memorial (required by
      subsection (d)(3) of this section), any day on which the United
      States flag is displayed;
        (B) in the case of display at medical centers of the Department
      of Veterans Affairs (required by subsection (d)(7) of this
      section), any day on which the flag of the United States is
      displayed; and
        (C) in the case of display at United States Postal Service post
      offices (required by subsection (d)(8) of this section), the last
      business day before a day specified in paragraph (1) that in any
      year is not itself a business day.

      (d) Locations for Flag Display. - The locations for the display
    of the POW/MIA flag under subsection (b) of this section are the
    following:
        (1) The Capitol.
        (2) The White House.
        (3) The World War II Memorial, the Korean War Veterans
      Memorial, and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
        (4) Each national cemetery.
        (5) The buildings containing the official office of - 
          (A) the Secretary of State;
          (B) the Secretary of Defense;
          (C) the Secretary of Veterans Affairs; and
          (D) the Director of the Selective Service System.

        (6) Each major military installation, as designated by the
      Secretary of Defense.
        (7) Each medical center of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
        (8) Each United States Postal Service post office.

      (e) Coordination With Other Display Requirement. - Display of the
    POW/MIA flag at the Capitol pursuant to subsection (d)(1) of this
    section is in addition to the display of that flag in the Rotunda
    of the Capitol pursuant to Senate Concurrent Resolution 5 of the
    101st Congress, agreed to on February 22, 1989 (103 Stat. 2533).
      (f) Display To Be in a Manner Visible to the Public. - Display of
    the POW/MIA flag pursuant to this section shall be in a manner
    designed to ensure visibility to the public.
      (g) Limitation. - This section may not be construed or applied so
    as to require any employee to report to work solely for the purpose
    of providing for the display of the POW/MIA flag.

-SOURCE-
    (Pub. L. 105-225, Aug. 12, 1998, 112 Stat. 1268; Pub. L. 105-354,
    Sec. 1(1), Nov. 3, 1998, 112 Stat. 3238; Pub. L. 107-323, Sec.
    2(a), (b), Dec. 4, 2002, 116 Stat. 2787.)

-MISC1-



                       HISTORICAL AND REVISION NOTES                   
                              PUB. L. 105-225                          
    --------------------------------------------------------------------
      Revised       Source (U.S. Code)       Source (Statutes at Large) 
      Section                                                           
    --------------------------------------------------------------------
    902(a)         36:189.                 Aug. 10, 1990, Pub. L.       
                                            101-355, Sec. 2, 104 Stat.  
                                            416.                        
    902(b)         36:189 note.            Dec. 5, 1991, Pub. L.        
                                            102-190, title X, Sec.      
                                            1084(a)-(c), (e), 105 Stat. 
                                            1482, 1483.                 
    902(c)         36:189 note.            Dec. 5, 1991, Pub. L.        
                                            102-190, title X, Sec.      
                                            1084(d), 105 Stat. 1483.    
    --------------------------------------------------------------------

      In subsection (b), the text of section 1084(c) of the National
    Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Years 1992 and 1993 (Public
    Law 102-190, 105 Stat. 1483) is omitted as executed.

                              PUB. L. 105-354                          
      This amends section 902 of title 36 to reflect changes made by
    section 1082 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal
    Year 1998 (Public Law 105-85, Nov. 18, 1997, 111 Stat. 1917, 36
    App. U.S.C. 189a).
      Section 1082(g) of that Act, which defined "POW/MIA flag" as used
    in section 1082 by reference to section 2 of Public Law 101-355, is
    unnecessary because the two provisions are restated together in
    section 902 of title 36.
      Section 1082(h), which required that regulations be prescribed no
    later than 180 days after enactment of Public law 105-85, is
    repealed as executed.
      Section 1082(i), which required that the Administrator of GSA
    procure and distribute POW/MIA flags no later than 30 days after
    enactment of Public Law 105-85, is repealed as executed.
      Section 1082(j), which repealed section 1084 of Public Law 102-
    190 (previously restated as subsections (b) and (c) of section 902
    of title 36), is repealed as executed.

                                AMENDMENTS                            
      2002 - Subsec. (c)(2). Pub. L. 107-323, Sec. 2(b), added subpar.
    (A) and redesignated former subpars. (A) and (B) as (B) and (C),
    respectively.
      Subsec. (d)(3). Pub. L. 107-323, Sec. 2(a), substituted "The
    World War II Memorial, the Korean War Veterans Memorial, and the
    Vietnam Veterans Memorial" for "The Korean War Veterans Memorial
    and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial".
      1998 - Subsecs. (b) to (g). Pub. L. 105-354 added subsecs. (b) to
    (g) and struck out former subsecs. (b) and (c) which read as
    follows:
      "(b) Display. - The flag shall be displayed - 
        "(1) at each national cemetery and at the National Vietnam
      Veterans Memorial each year on Memorial Day and Veterans Day and
      on any day designated by law as National POW/MIA Recognition Day;
      and
        "(2) on, or on the grounds of, the buildings containing the
      primary offices of the Secretaries of State, Defense, and
      Veterans Affairs, and the Director of the Selective Service
      System on any day designated by law as National POW/MIA
      Recognition Day.
      "(c) Termination of Flag Display Requirement. - Subsection (b) of
    this section ceases to apply when the President decides that the
    fullest possible accounting has been made of all members of the
    Armed Forces and civilian employees of the United States Government
    who have been identified as prisoners of war or missing in action
    in Southeast Asia."

                       DISPLAY ON EXISTING FLAGPOLE                   
      Pub. L. 107-323, Sec. 2(c), Dec. 4, 2002, 116 Stat. 2788,
    provided that: "No element of the United States Government may
    construe the amendments made by this section [amending this
    section] as requiring the acquisition of [sic] erection of a new or

    additional flagpole for purposes of the display of the POW/MIA
    flag."

-End-



-CITE-
    36 USC Sec. 903                                             01/02/2006

-EXPCITE-
    TITLE 36 - PATRIOTIC AND NATIONAL OBSERVANCES, CEREMONIES, AND
                ORGANIZATIONS                       
    Subtitle I - Patriotic and National Observances and Ceremonies
    Part A - Observances and Ceremonies
    CHAPTER 9 - MISCELLANEOUS

-HEAD-
    Sec. 903. Designation of Medal of Honor Flag

-STATUTE-
      (a) Designation. - The Secretary of Defense shall design and
    designate a flag as the Medal of Honor Flag. In selecting the
    design for the flag, the Secretary shall consider designs submitted
    by the general public.
      (b) Presentation. - The Medal of Honor Flag shall be presented as
    specified in sections 3755, 6257, and 8755 of title 10 and section
    505 of title 14.

-SOURCE-
    (Added Pub. L. 107-248, title VIII, Sec. 8143(b)(1), Oct. 23, 2002,
    116 Stat. 1570.)


-MISC1-
                                 FINDINGS                             
      Pub. L. 107-248, title VIII, Sec. 8143(a), Oct. 23, 2002, 116
    Stat. 1570, provided that: "Congress finds that - 
        "(1) the Medal of Honor is the highest award for valor in
      action against an enemy force which can be bestowed upon an
      individual serving in the Armed Forces of the United States;
        "(2) the Medal of Honor was established by Congress during the
      Civil War to recognize soldiers who had distinguished themselves
      by gallantry in action;
        "(3) the Medal of Honor was conceived by Senator James Grimes
      of the State of Iowa in 1861; and
        "(4) the Medal of Honor is the Nation's highest military honor,
      awarded for acts of personal bravery or self-sacrifice above and
      beyond the call of duty."

                    PRESENTATION OF MEDAL OF HONOR FLAG                
      Pub. L. 107-248, title VIII, Sec. 8143(d), Oct. 23, 2002, 116
    Stat. 1571, provided that: "The President shall provide for the
    presentation of the Medal of Honor Flag designated under section
    903 of title 36, United States Code, as added by subsection (b), to
    each person awarded the Medal of Honor before the date of enactment
    of this Act [Oct. 23, 2002] who is living as of that date. Such
    presentation shall be made as expeditiously as possible after the
    date of the designation of the Medal of Honor Flag by the Secretary
    of Defense under such section."

-End-


-CITE-
    36 USC Part B - United States Government Organizations
                     Involved With Observances and
                     Ceremonies                            01/02/2006

-EXPCITE-
    TITLE 36 - PATRIOTIC AND NATIONAL OBSERVANCES, CEREMONIES, AND
                ORGANIZATIONS                       
    Subtitle I - Patriotic and National Observances and Ceremonies
    Part B - United States Government Organizations Involved With
              Observances and Ceremonies              

-HEAD-
       PART B - UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT ORGANIZATIONS INVOLVED WITH
                        OBSERVANCES AND CEREMONIES

-End-

2 thoughts on “Tomorrow is POW-MIA Recognition Day

  1. […] Tomorrow is POW-MIA Recognition Day(2) In addition to the days specified in paragraph (1) of this subsection, POW/MIA flag display days include – (A) in the case of display at the World War II Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial, and Vietnam Veterans Memorial … […]

  2. […] Tomorrow is POW-MIA Recognition Day(2) In addition to the days specified in paragraph (1) of this subsection, POW/MIA flag display days include – (A) in the case of display at the World War II Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial, and Vietnam Veterans Memorial … […]

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