What is POW MIA Recognition Day?
Did you know that as of this writing, there are still over 1,500 Americans missing and unaccounted for from the Vietnam War?
National POW/MIA Recognition Day was established via presidential proclamation by Jimmy Carter in 1979. Every president since has issued a similar proclamation commemorating the third Friday in September as National POW/MIA Recognition Day.
The purpose of this day of recognition is to honor those who were POW or MIA, meaning former prisoners of war or those still missing in action. POW/MIA Day is geared towards those who were POWs or went MIA during the Vietnam War, but certainly does not cast aside those who met similar fates during other conflicts.
National Former Prisoner of War Recognition Day
POW/MIA Recognition Day shouldn’t be confused with National Former POW Recognition Day, which is celebrated on April 9th. This day commemorates the beginning of the Battan Death March, where over 10,000 American soldiers were surrendered as POWs to the Japanese during WWII.
The POW/MIA flag was created for the National League of Families of American Prisoners and Missing in Southeast Asia. It was adopted in 1972, even before the first day of recognition was established.
In most cases, the POW/MIA flag is only flown on the following dates:
- Armed Forces Day – 3rd Saturday in May
- Memorial Day – Last Monday in May
- Flag Day – June 14th
- Independence Day – July 4th
- National POW/MIA Recognition Day – 3rd Friday in September
- Veterans Day – November 11th
The POW/MIA flag flies continuously over:
- The White House
- The Rotunda
- The Korean War Veterans Memorial
- The Vietnam Veterans Memorial
- The WWII Memorial
- Each National Cemetery
- Buildings containing the offices of Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Director of Selective Service
- Each major military installation
- Every U.S. Post office.
Ceremonies in Honor of National POW/MIA Recognition Day 2021
A national-level ceremony is held on every National POW/MIA Recognition Day at the Pentagon, and features members from each branch of military service and participation from high-ranking officials. Additional observances of National POW/MIA Recognition Day are held across the country on military installations, ships at sea, state capitols, schools, and veterans’ facilities.
No matter where they are held, these National POW/MIA Recognition Day ceremonies focus on honoring those who were held captive and returned, as well as those who remain missing.
Learn about Additional Days of Recognition and Remembrance
The Military Connection Blog is a great reference for learning about other holidays and days of recognition with military significance. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter to ensure you don’t miss a post!