Gone but not forgotten - POWs, MIAs recognized on special day
By MCRD Public Affairs Office
| | September 19, 2003
MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO, Calif. --
Today marks a special occasion for people all over the nation as they recognize National Prisoner Of War and Missing In Action Recognition Day.
This day, which is observed the third Friday in September, honors the sacrifices of those service members who were prisoners of war or who are still listed as missing in action.
In 1997, President Bill Clinton proclaimed the purpose of POW/MIA Day was to "never forget those who have borne the indignities and sufferings of captivity in service to our country."
The proclamation also recognized "with special sympathy and concern, the courageous families who maintain their steadfast vigil and perseverance in their search for answers and for the peace that comes only with certainty in knowing the fate of their loved ones who are still listed as missing in action."
While a relatively new day of national recognition, POW/MIA Day traces its roots to 1971 and the design of the nationally known POW/MIA flag. That flag, featuring a black and white silhouette of a service member whose head is bowed, was designed by the wife of an American service member listed as missing in action in Southeast Asia.
From the Vietnam War, 2,047 service members remain listed as POW/MIA. There are 645 soldiers, 415 sailors, 263 Marines, 684 airmen, one Coast Guardsman and 39 civilians who remain unaccounted for in Southeast Asia.
However, POW/MIA status is nothing new for America's armed forces. In comparison with other wars, Vietnam is the nation's sixth most costly war in terms of POW and MIA tallies.
In the Revolutionary War, 18,152 service members were listed as POW and 1,426 listed as MIA. From the War of 1812, those numbers rose to 20,000 POWs with 695 MIAs. In World War I, 7,470 service members were POWs or MIAs. During the Korean War, 7,140 persons were POWs and 8,177 were listed as missing in action.
Of all America's war losses to POW/MIA misfortune, the single largest was the Civil War, where Union POW/MIA tallies totaled 194,743, and Confederate POW/MIAs tallies totaled 214,865 personnel.
More information on POW/MIA Day can be found at www.dtic.mil/dpmo.