The American Legion is committed to achieving a full accounting of all POW/MIAs from the Gulf War,
Vietnam War, Cold War, Korean War and World War II. This means returning living POWs, the repatriation
of their remains, or finding convincing evidence why neither of these is possible.
The American Legion supports the continued declassification of all POW/MIA information, the strengthening
of joint commissions with Russia, North Korea and China, and adequate resourcing of investigative efforts
and field operations to resolve POW/MIA issues. The American Legion has also worked continuously with both
Congress and DoD to improve the policies and programs for the accountability of missing persons. This includes
urging the president and Congress to fully fund theDefense POW/MIA Accounting Agency Office (DPAA) for
its current and future mission of ensuring the accountability of U.S. servicemembers. The American Legion
will continue to speak out and exert maximum pressure on both the administration and on Congress to fully
account for America's POW/MIAs.
For years, The American Legion supported a National POW/MIA Recognition Day, which is now recognized annually on the third Friday of September. This commemoration is set aside to honor the commitment and sacrifices made by this nation's prisoners of war and those who are still missing in action, as well as their families.
Until July 18, 1979, no commemoration was held to honor POW/MIAs. In the first year, Congress passed resolutions and the national ceremony was held at the National Cathedral in Washington. The 1st Tactical Squadron from Langley Air Force Base in Virginia flew the Missing Man formation. A poster was published by VA which contained only the letters POW/MIA. That continued until 1982, when a black and white drawing of a POW in captivity was used to show urgency of the situation.
Every year, National POW/MIA Recognition Day legislation was introduced until 1985, when Congress determined that commemorative days would no longer be considered. The president now signs a proclamation each year.
The National League of Families proposed the third Friday of September as a commemoration date. Most of the National POW/MIA Recognition Day ceremonies have taken place at the Pentagon. Now, they're held throughout the nation and around the world on military installations, ships, schools, churches, etc. The focus is to ensure that America remembers its responsibility to stand behind those who serve it and to make sure that we do all that is possible to account for those who have not returned.
Before we begin our festivities this evening, we will recognize our POW’s and MIA’s.
We call your attention to this small table, which occupies a place of honor near the head table.
It is set for one symbolizing the fact that members of our armed forces are missing from our ranks.
They are referred to as POW’s and MIA’s, our Comrades in arms. They are unable to be with their loved
ones and families tonight, so we join with them in this humble tribute.
This table, set for one, is small, symbolizing the frailty of one prisoner alone against an army of his suppressors.
The single rose in the vase reminds us of the family and friends of our missing brothers who keep the faith while awaiting their return.
The red ribbon on the vase represents the red ribbons warn on the lapels of the thousands who demand with unyielding determination
a proper accounting of our brothers who are not among us tonight.
A slice of lemon on the plate reminds us of their bitter fate.
The salt sprinkled on the plate reminds us of the countless fallen tears of families as they wait.
The glass is inverted – they cannot toast with us this night.
The chair is empty – they are not here.
The candle is reminiscent of the light of hope, which lives in our hearts to illuminate their way home, away from their
captors, to the open arms of a grateful nation. Let us pray to the Supreme Commandant that all of our Comrades will soon be back within our ranks.
Let us remember.
**In Legion meetings the cap should be worn except during moments of the “Pledge of Allegiance,” prayer, when standing in silent reverence in memory of departed comrades, and during POW/MIA Ceremony. During these moments the cap should be held with the right hand over the heart**