POW/MIA Remembrance

POW-MIA FlagThe American Legion is dedicated to securing a complete account of all American POW/MIAs from conflicts including the Gulf War, Vietnam War, Cold War, Korean War, and World War II. Their commitment involves ensuring the return of living POWs, the repatriation of remains, or uncovering definitive evidence when neither is feasible.

The organization advocates for the ongoing declassification of all POW/MIA-related information and strengthening collaborations with Russia, North Korea, and China. It also emphasizes the need for sufficient resources for investigative work and field operations to address POW/MIA cases. The American Legion actively collaborates with Congress and the Department of Defense to enhance policies and programs related to missing servicemembers. They persistently urge both the president and Congress to fully fund the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Office (DPMO) to support its mission in accounting for U.S. servicemembers.

The American Legion was instrumental in establishing the National POW/MIA Recognition Day, now observed annually on the third Friday of September. This day honors the sacrifices of prisoners of war and those still missing in action, along with their families.

pow-mia empty tableThe recognition of POW/MIAs began on July 18, 1979, with resolutions passed by Congress and the inaugural national ceremony at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., featuring a Missing Man formation flight by the 1st Tactical Squadron from Langley Air Force Base. The event evolved over the years, with various symbols and commemorations used to highlight the urgency of the situation.

Although Congress ceased considering commemorative days after 1985, the president annually signs a proclamation to mark National POW/MIA Recognition Day, proposed by the National League of Families for the third Friday of September. Ceremonies are now conducted across the U.S. and globally, emphasizing America’s commitment to those who serve and ensuring efforts to account for those who have not returned.

Furthermore, in accordance with Resolution 288, adopted at the 67th American Legion National Convention, a POW/MIA Empty Chair is designated at all official meetings of The American Legion. This serves as a physical reminder of the thousands of American POW/MIAs still unaccounted for from various U.S. conflicts.