National POW/MIA Recognition Day

s holiday in the United States remembers Prisoners of War of those classified as Missing in Action. It is observed every September on the third Friday of the month. Some may fly the POW/MIA flag underneath the United States, and it must not be a larger sized flag.

National POW/MIA Recognition Day is celebrated with remembrance of the sacrifices made by Prisoners of War and Missing in Action military personnel. The service will also recognize their families. Many states celebrate with veteran rallies.

These rallies feature prayers, flying of the American and POW/MIA flags, and remembrance ceremonies. Such sits include the Pentagon, museums, historical sites, and war memorials. One memorial is the Andersonville National Historic Site, where the Camp Sumter POW camp was located during the Civil War.

Holiday Background

The holiday was established as a response to the POW/MIA controversy during the Vietnam War. This conflict arose due the United States either initially reporting inaccurate numbers of POW/MIAs or failing to recover a large amount of them. Upon the war’s end, the US listed 2,583 unaccounted for. This number is now at 1,650. As the amount of recovered or identified soldiers was expected to be much higher, this incited criticism that the United States had failed to properly identify how many POWS there were or had purposely reported false information—Nixon had extended the war on the idea that it was necessary to recover these larger figures. Another theory, supported by many POW/MIA organizations is that some American soldiers kept as live prisoners to either die there or still exist there today. The National League of Families of American Prisoners and Missing in Southeast Asia is the most vocal of these, continuing investigations and questioning of the issue. There is a conspiracy that the United States government has allowed this in order to avoid backlash.

At the conclusion of the Vietnam War in 1973, the United States listed about 1,350 prisoners of war. It is believed that almost all except for 1/10th were lost in Cambodia and Laos. In a response to this, the United States established National POW/MIA Recognition Day on every July 18, 1979. It was changed several times until settling on September’s third Friday.

Many cemeteries have sections of unmarked graves for burials of the remains of unidentified soldiers. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. honors the MIA by listing their names on the memorial alongside other veterans. Veteran memorial sites usually include a dedication to the MIA, including a “Missing in Action” plaque at the Veterans Memorial Park in Rhome, Texas.

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