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National POW/MIA Recognition Day to be celebrated September 18, 2009

POW_MIA_flag The third Friday in September is honored as National POW/MIA Recognition Day.

The flag is flown in the full-staff position on this day. While the law addresses flying the POW/MIA flag on federal installations only (see the link above), civilians should fly the POW/MIA flag directly beneath the U.S. flag on the same pole. State flags should not be flown on the same pole on these occasions.

I am not a member of the National League of Families, but I think those who are would remind us all that is not an occasion of mourning. This is a day to be filled with hope and determination, and to remember that there is still much work to be done. From the League of Families website:

UPDATE:  September 2, 2009

AMERICANS ACCOUNTED FOR:  There are now 1,731 US personnel listed by the Defense POW/MIA Office (DPMO) as missing and unaccounted for from the Vietnam War.  The number of US personnel accounted for since the end of the Vietnam War in 1975 is now 852.  During the League’s 40th Anniversary Annual Meeting, a League member announced that she had just received confirmation from JPAC that remains recovered earlier had been identified as those of her brother, MSGT Donald C. Grella, USA, of Nebraska, listed KIA/BNR on December 28, 1965 in South Vietnam.  Also now accounted for from that same incident are WO2 Jesse D.  Phelps of Idaho and CPL Thomas Rice, Jr. of South Carolina, both also US Army and initially listed as KIA/BNR.  Three Air Force personnel whose names were released as accounted for are Capt Robert J. Edgar of Florida, listed MIA in Laos on 2/5/68, remains repatriated 5/27/97 and identified 4/28/09; Maj Curtis D. Miller of Texas, listed MIA in Laos on 3/29/72, remains repatriated 8/2/06 and identified 2/12/08; and LtCol Russell A. Poor of Indiana, listed MIA in North Vietnam on 2/4/67, remains repatriated 6/14/07 and identified 5/26/08.  To each of these families, the League offers understanding and the hope that these concrete answers bring long-awaited peace of mind.  Of the 1,731 men still missing, 90% were lost in Vietnam or areas of Laos and Cambodia under Vietnam’s wartime control.

You can help:  National League of Families

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POW-MIA Flag—You are not forgotten

In the late 1960s, the wife of a Prisoner-of-War held in North Vietnam organized a group of families who also had family members listed as POWs or were MIA—missing in action. The organization grew and in 1970, it incorporated in Washington D.C. as the National League of Families of American Prisoners and Missing in Southeast Asia. The League is a non-profit, tax-exempt, 501(3)(c) humanitarian organization, funded by contributions from the families, veterans, and other Americans.

The League’s sole purpose is to obtain the release of all prisoners, the fullest possible accounting for the missing and repatriation of all recoverable remains of those who died serving our nation during the Vietnam War in Southeast Asia.

Mrs. Michael Hoff, the wife of an American missing in action, and member of the National League of Families, recognized the need for a symbol of our POW/MIAs. After reading an article in the Jacksonville, Florida Times Union, Mrs. Hoff contacted Norman Rivkees, Vice-President of long-time American flag manufacturers Annin and Company. Rivkees, sympathetic to the POW-MIA issue, and Annin advertising agency graphic designer Newt Heisley, designed a flag to represent the missing men.

800px-POW.MIA.Flag.2 The now iconic black and white flag design was a draft design, chosen from several designs that were submitted to the League. Heisley thought the design would be finalized with color, but the League liked the black and white flag just as it was. It was a good decision.

The POW-MIA flag has flown over the White House, and on March 9, 1989 an official League flag was installed in the US Capital Rotunda where it stands as a powerful symbol of America’s commitment to our POWs and MIAs.  This is the only flag ever to be honored in this way.

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