National Former Prisoner of War Recognition Day observed annually on April 9 recognizes and honors the courageous prisoners of war (POW) and those who are still missing in action (MIA). Did you know that prisoners of war must be treated decently with respect? Yes, although they are prisoners of war, they will be allowed to have all the basic rights. On this day, back in 1942, American veterans were held by the Japanese and endured harsh treatment. While some survived, there were countless numbers of people that died on their way to the prison camps. Let’s learn more about them!
History of National Former Prisoner Of War Recognition Day
War is a brutal act that humans have carried out ever since they learned to use sticks and stones as weapons. Prisoners of War (POW), the people who are captured by the opposition party as prisoners during the war, often endure atrocious treatment. National Former Prisoner of War Recognition Day aims to honor those courageous fighters of the nation who had to endure
National Former Prisoners of War Recognition Day occurs on the anniversary of the Bataan Death march. On April 9, 1942, the United States Forces surrendered to the Imperial Japanese Army on the Bataan Peninsula. All Survivors were loaded to a box train and brought to Camp O’Donnell. During this march, POWs were physically abused and tortured, causing the death of over 500 Americans. This is called the Bataan Death March. Later, this action of the Japanese Army was judged to be a Japanese War Crime.
In 1984, former POWs led a movement to recognize April 9, the day of the Bataan Death March, as the National Former Prisoner of War Recognition Day. On April 1, 1988, President Ronald Reagan proclaimed April 9 be set aside to recognize the brave veterans. Reagan announced the holiday through the Presidential Proclamation 5788, and congress agreed with the legislation. Since then, on this day, every year, government officials, veterans, civic and private organizations across the nation observe this day with ceremonies and events. They also fly the POW/MIA flag on National Former Prisoner of War Recognition Day.
National Former Prisoner Of War Recognition Day timeline
The largest number of U.S. Forces are captured by Japanese troops in the Bataan peninsula.
The last U.S. combat troops depart the Republic of Vietnam.
Former POWs lead the movement seeking a day recognizing POWs.
Congress approves the legislation, setting April 9 as the National Former Prisoner of War Recognition Day.
National Former Prisoner Of War Recognition Day FAQs
Do prisoners of war still exist?
In the U.S., there are currently 83,204 unaccounted for U.S. personnel including 73,547 from World War II.
Are prisoners of war slaves?
In the past centuries, POWs had no rights and were treated as slaves. But now, POWs have rights and are treated with dignity.
Why are prisoners of war taken?
Prisoners of war are held for various legitimate and illegitimate reasons, such as isolating them from the enemy combatants.
How to Observe National Former Prisoner Of War Recognition Day
Organize a local event
Organize a local event to honor the sacrifices, endurance, and courage of former POWs and educate your local community.
Fly the POW flag
Fly the POW/MIA flag with your local community and ensure that you follow all the rules to observe this tradition with respect.
Invite a former POW
If you know a former POW, you can invite them, honor them, and hear about the astonishing stories of their lives.
5 Mind-Blowing Facts About POWs We Bet You Didn’t Know
POWs could work to earn money
Prisoners who are captured can work in prison and earn money.
POWs could enlist in the opposing army
Prisoners are usually tempted by the captors into gaining freedom by enlisting into their armies.
That is a lot!
More than 130,000 U.S. service members were POWs during World War II.
U.S. Navy POW, Jeremiah Denton, blinked out the word ‘torture’ in Morse code in a forced T.V. interview in North Vietnam.
They must be let go
After the end of a war, all POWs must be let go quickly.
Why National Former Prisoner Of War Recognition Day is Important
It’s a day of honor
National Former Prisoner of War Recognition Day honors the often-underappreciated heroes of our nation.
We can appreciate them for their sacrifice
Prisoners of War did more than fight for the country, they sacrificed a major part of their life suffering in prison. This day is a way to show our appreciation.
It teaches us the cost of freedom
This day highlights the horrific incidents and sufferings that our fellow citizens endured in the war and teaches us that the freedom we enjoy today didn’t come easy.
National Former Prisoner Of War Recognition Day dates