National POW/MIA Recognition Day is an observance that honors those who were prisoners of war (POW) as well as those who are still missing in action (MIA).
It is observed in the United States on the third Friday in September, which falls on September 15, 2023.
National POW/MIA Recognition Day was proclaimed by the United States Congress in 1998. It is one of the six national observances when the POW/MIA Flag can be flown. The other five observances are Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, and Veterans Day.
The POW/MIA flag was created by the National League of Families in 1972 and was officially recognized by Congress in 1990. It is a symbol of concern about United States military personnel taken as POW or listed as MIA. The POW/MIA flag is typically flown immediately below or adjacent to the national flag as second in the order of precedence.
On National POW/MIA Recognition Day, the flag is flown on the grounds of major military installations, veterans memorials, government agencies, federal national cemeteries.
In the armed forces, a single table and chair draped with the POW/MIA flag are displayed in mess halls and dining halls. It symbolizes the hope for the return of these who are missing in action.
National Former Prisoner of War Recognition Day on April 9th honors the courageous men and women who endured brutal treatment at the hands of their captors. As a result, they also suffered separation from family and displayed incredible endurance and faith during their captivity.
On this day in 1942, the largest number of U.S. Forces were captured by Japanese troops in the Bataan Peninsula in the Philippines. After battling through extreme conditions and prolonged battles, the captured troops were forced to march 65 miles to the prison camp. Without medical attention, food or water thousands died. The mistreatment continued for those who survived the brutal journey. In the compounds, deep in the unfamiliar jungle, the hardships, brutality, and suffering lasted more than two years for those who could survive.
Since the Revolutionary War, over half a million service members have been captured. This number does not reflect those lost or never recovered. However, each POW endures conditions much like the ones described above. These heroes deserve a day of recognition.
In 1984, a movement led by former POWs began seeking a day recognizing for former Prisoners of War on April 9th each year. In 1988, Congress approved legislation setting April 9th to commemorate the date the tragic number of captives were taken prisoner on Bataan. President Ronald Reagan proclaimed National Former Prisoners of War Recognition Day on April 1, 1988, through Presidential Proclamation 5788. He set the observance for April 9, 1988. Since then, through legislation and Presidential Proclamations, the observance carries on. These men and women deserve our respect and profound gratitude.
The Veterans History Project collects, preserves, and makes accessible the firsthand accounts of American wartime veterans so that future generations may learn about veterans’ experiences in their own words to better understand the realities of war. The United States Congress created the Veterans History Project (VHP) in 2000, and the project is overseen and archived by the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress (LOC).
All veterans who reside in the 26th Congressional District are encouraged to register to be interviewed for the Veterans History Project. Interviews will be conducted every Tuesday at U.S. Congressman Michael Burgess’ Lake Dallas district office.
You can sign up by submitting your interview request to Congressman Burgess’ office by mail, email, or by calling his district office at 940-497-5031. (If you are unsure of your residency, please check here.)
The Project collects first-hand accounts of U.S. Veterans from the following wars:
- World War, 1914-1918
- World War, 1939-1945
- Cold War
- Korean War, 1950-1953
- Vietnam War, 1961-1975
- Grenada–History–American Invasion, 1983
- Panama–History–American Invasion, 1989
- Operation Restore Hope, 1992-1993
- Persian Gulf War, 1991
- United Nations Operation in Somalia
- Haiti–History–American intervention, 1994-1995
- Operation Allied Force, 1999
- Peacekeeping forces–Bosnia and Hercegovina
- Operation Joint Guardian, 1999-
- War on Terrorism, 2001-2009
- Afghan War, 2001-
- Iraq War, 2003-2011
In addition, U.S. citizen civilians who were actively involved in supporting war efforts (such as war industry workers, USO workers, flight instructors, medical volunteers, etc.) also are invited to share their valuable stories.
Note: This post does not constitute an endorsement of U.S. Congressman Michael Burgess on the part of the American Legion or its members.
Peter J. Courcy Post 178 was honored to present the colors at the 2018 NAMPOW (Vietnam era Prisoners of War) 45th Anniversary Freedom Reunion on August 18, 2018. This is an annual reunion and was held at the Omni Hotel at The Star Frisco, Texas.
Honor Guard members (L to R): Dave Fautheree, Terry Meyering, Larry Marshall, Ted Ruybal, Delbert Parsons
2018 NAMPOW 45th Anniversary of Freedom Reunion Highlights
The national organization of former Vietnam POWs (NAMPOWs.org) held their 45th Anniversary of Freedom reunion August 15-19, 2018 in Frisco, Texas. Over 440 family and friends attended the event, along with over 120 former POWs. The video provides a highlight of the activities over the 4-days of the reunion.
2018 NAMPOW FAREWELL BANQUET SPEAKER – DR ROGER E SHIELDS
This video includes the Farewell Banquet speaker, Dr. Roger Shields remarks on the last night of the national organization of former Vietnam POWs (NAMPOWs.org) 45th Anniversary of Freedom reunion August 15-19, 2018 in Frisco, Texas. Dr. Roger E. Shields worked in President Nixon’s administration and was responsible for the planning and execution of Operation Homecoming that returned the POWs to freedom in 1973.
You may need to turn up your volume to hear the video. You can also view the video at NBC 5 News DFW. Video is copyright of NBC 5 News DFW.
The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency has previously reported that North Korean officials have notified the U.S. that they have as many as 200 sets of U.S. remains from the Korean War, however it is not clear how many would be transferred in this ceremony.
In this September 2000 file photo, United Nations soldiers carry a coffin of a missing U.S. soldier’s remains upon arrival at Yokota airbase in Tokyo. The most tangible outcome of the summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un seems to be a commitment to recover the remains of U.S. military personnel missing in action and presumed dead from the Korean War. (Shizuo Kambayashi/AP)