POW/MIA Recognition Day is observed on the third Friday of September, on September 16 this year, to recommit to full accountability to the families of the more than 80,000 veterans captured or still missing from wars that the United States has participated in. According to accounts, during the first ceremony of POW/MIA Day at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., fighter airplanes from the military base in Virginia flew in the ‘missing man formation’ in their honor.
History of National POW/MIA Recognition Day
National POW/MIA Recognition Day is observed annually in September around a central theme to show commitment to full accountability to the families of captured service members and missing war heroes.
The term POW and MIA mean prisoner of war and military personnel who went missing in action.
Many service members suffered as prisoners during the several wars that have happened throughout the history of the U.S. National POW/MIA Recognition Day was initiated as the day to commemorate with the family of many of the tens of thousands of service members who never made it home.
The day was first observed in 1979 after Congress and the president passed a resolution to make it official following the demands of the families of 2,500 Vietnam War POW/MIAs who asked for accountability in finding their loved ones.it is also mostly associated with service members who were prisoners of war during the Vietnam War.
Regardless of where they are held in the country, National POW/MIA Recognition Day ceremonies share the common purpose of honoring those who were held captive and returned, as well as the memory of those who remain missing in service to the United States.
Until 1979, there was no formal day set aside for these important men and women and the first observance of POW/MIA day included a remembrance ceremony at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. Since then, the Pentagon is where the official observance happens, with other celebrations happening at military bases around the country and elsewhere.
National POW/MIA Recognition Day timeline
The well-known POW/MIA’s flag is created years before the remembrance day becomes official by Mary Hoff.
National POW/MIA Recognition Day is observed for the first time when Congress and the president pass a resolution to make it official after the families of 2,500 Vietnam War POW/MIAs pushed for accountability.
Congress passes a law that recognizes the POW/MIA flag.
POW/MIA Accounting Agency design a poster to commemorate National POW/MIA Recognition Day annually.
National POW/MIA Recognition Day FAQs
How do you celebrate POW/MIA Recognition Day?
Celebrate POW/MIA Recognition Day by raising the POW/MIA flag. You can also visit a themed museum to learn about the heroes and wars that defined the United States.
What is the motto of the POW/MIA flag?
“You Are Not Forgotten.” The motto was adopted together with the flag that was designed years before the remembrance day became official by Mary Hoff; wife of a missing veteran.
Who can fly a POW/MIA flag?
Anyone can celebrate POW/MIA Recognition Day by flying the POW/MIA flag. POW/MIA Recognition Day is observed around the country with the same goal.
How to Observe National POW/MIA Recognition Day
Fly a POW/MIA flag
There’s no better way to observe National POW/MIA Day than flying the flag below that of the United States. You can observe the day with the POW/MIA Accounting Agency’s annual poster too.
Visit a POW/MIA-themed museum
Try to brush up on your knowledge of the history of the United States in a POW/MIA-themed museum. Learn about the heroes, wars, and events and that was the precedence of the freedom we all enjoy.
Look back in time
Share intellectually stimulating discussions about the history of the United States with colleagues, friends, and family! Commemorate the day’s heroes by — in your memory.
5 Things To Know About National POW/MIA Recognition Day
The idea behind the day
The central phrase behind POW/MIA Recognition day is You Are Not Forgotten.
It’s a push for accountability
National POW/MIA Recognition Day is the result of a push for accountability by the families of more than 2,500 Vietnam War POW/MIAs.
There’s a POW/MIA Agency
There’s a POW/MIA Accounting Agency that works to account for the more than 80,000 Americans who fought in several wars but are still missing.
There’s a POW/MIA flag
There’s a flag that's well known across America that was created by the wife of a POW and was adopted and recognized by Congress.
Posters are used to celebrate POW/MIA Recognition Day
Since 1999, the POW/MIA Accounting Agency has created a poster to annually commemorate National POW/MIA Recognition Day.
Why National POW/MIA Recognition Day is Important
It is in memory of loved ones
National POW/MIA Recognition Day brings back the memory of loved ones and their experience defending the freedom we now enjoy throughout the country. It serves as a solid reminder of how much we love or miss them
It helps us reminisce about the history of our country
National POW/MIA Recognition Day helps us look back on the history of our country. It serves as a day to analyze events that have become part of the fabric of the United States.
It helps us value freedom
Yes! National POW/MIA Recognition Day helps us value the freedom we now enjoy more knowing that somewhere out there there are people suffering the consequence of fighting for it.
National POW/MIA Recognition Day dates