National POW/MIA Recognition Day

09/21/12

National POW/MIA Recognition Day is observed on the third Friday in September to honor the deep commitment and sacrifices of Americans who spent time as Prisoners of War or who are still Missing in Action (unaccounted for while serving in a combat zone).  It also honors and remembers the families of these service members.

Over 1600 American personnel are currently listed by the Defense Department's POW/MIA Office as missing and unaccounted for.  About 90 percent of the 1,741 people still missing were lost in Vietnam or areas of Laos and Cambodia under Vietnam's wartime control, though there are also MIAs from WWI and WWII, and Korea.  There is one American (Bowe R. Bergdahl) classified as a POW in Afghanistan, and a number of Americans were captured by the enemy in Iraq--thus considered Prisoners of War--and then executed (their bodies were later recovered). 

National POW/MIA Recognition Day was first declared by the United States Congress to be observed on July 18, 1979. It was observed on various days through 1985, and then from 1986 onwards the date moved to the third Friday of September.  The United States president each year proclaims National POW/MIA Recognition Day. Many states in the USA also proclaim POW/MIA Recognition Day together with the national effort.

On National POW/MIA Recognition Day, veterans organizations and other military support associations hold ceremonies to honor POWs and MIAs, and the famous POM/MIA flag is authorized to be flown directly under the American flag.  Many Americans daily wear bracelets with the name of an MIA service member.

May We Never Forget.

To learn more about POWs and MIAs, and American efforts to recover them, visit the Defense Prisoner of War Missing Personnel Office website or the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command website.