The third Friday in September is set aside to honor the commitment and the sacrifices made by this nationís Prisoners of War and those who are still Missing in Action, as well as their families. Observances of National POW/MIA Recognition Day are held across the country on military installations, ships at sea, state capitols, schools and veteransí facilities. This observance is one of six days throughout the year that Congress has mandated the flying of the National League of Familiesí POW/MIA flag.
The POW MIA Remembrance Ceremony
As you entered the banquet hall this evening, you may have noticed a small table in a place of honor. It is set for one. This table is our way of symbolizing the fact that members of our profession of arms are missing from our midst. They are commonly called POWs or MIAs, we call them "Brothers." They are unable to be with us this evening and so we remember them.
Some [here] in this room were very young when they were sent into combat; however, all Americans should never forget the brave men and women who answered our nation's call [to serve] and served the cause of freedom in a special way.
This table set for one is small -- Symbolizing the frailty of one prisoner alone against his oppressors. Remember! The table is round -- to show our everlasting concern for our missing men.
The tablecloth is white -- symbolizing the purity of their motives when answering the call to duty. Remember!
The single red rose, displayed in a vase, reminds us of the life of each of the missing, and the[ir] loved ones and friends of these Americans who keep the faith, awaiting answers. Remember!
The Red Ribbon tied so prominently on the vase is reminiscent of the red ribbon worn upon the lapel and breasts of thousands who bear witness to their unyielding determination to demand a proper accounting of our missing. Remember!
The Candle, the candle is lit -- Symbolizing the upward reach of their unconquerable spirit. Remember!
A slice of lemon on the bread plate is to remind us of the bitter fate of those captured and missing in a foreign land. Remember!
A pinch of salt symbolizes the tears endured by those missing and their families who seek answers. Remember!
The Bible represents the strength gained through faith to sustain those lost from our country, founded as one nation under God. Remember!
The glass is inverted -- to symbolize their inability to share this evening's [morningís/dayís] toast. Remember!
The chair is empty -- they are not here. Remember!
Remember! -- all of you who served with them and called them comrades, who depended upon their might and aid, and relied upon them, for surely, they have not forsaken you. Remember!
Remember! -- Until the day they come home. Remember!
TABLE SET UP:
1. A small, round bistro table 2. White tablecloth 3. Single place setting, preferably all white 4. Wine glass - inverted 5. Salt shaker 6. Slice of lemon on bread plate with a pile of spilled salt 7. Small bud vase with a single stem red rose 8. RED ribbon tied around the vase 9. Candle - lit 10. Empty chair
The History of The Vietnam War POW/MIA Flag
In 1971, Mrs.Mary Hoff, an MIA wife and member of the National League of American Prisoners and Missing in Southeast Asia, recognized the need for a symbol of our POW/MIAs. Prompted by an article in the Jacksonville, Florida TIMES-UNION, Mrs. Hoff contacted Norman Rivkees, Vice-President of Annin & Company which had made a banner for the newest member of the United Nations, the People's Republic of China, as a part of their policy to provide flags to all UN member nations. Mrs. Hoff found Mr. Rivkees very sympathetic to the POW/MIA issue, and he, along with Annin's advertising agency, designed a flag to represent our missing men. Following League approval, the flags were manufactured for distribution.
The flag is black, bearing in the center, in black and white, the emblem of the League. The emblem is a white disk bearing in black silhouette the bust of a man, watch tower with a guard holding a rifle, and a strand of barbed wire; above the disk are the white letters POW and MIA framing a white 5-pointed star; below the disk is a black and white wreath above the white motto YOU ARE NOT FORGOTTEN.
Concerned groups and individuals have altered the original POW/MIA Flag many times; the colors have been switched from black with white - to red, white and blue, -to white with black; the POW/MIA has at times been revised to MIA/POW. Such changes, however, are insignificant. The importance lies in the continued visibility of the symbol, a constant reminder of the plight of America's POW/MIA'S.
On March 9,1989, a POW/MIA Flag, which flew over the White House on the 1988 National POW/MIA Recognition Day, was installed in the United States Capitol Rotunda as a result of legislation passed overwhelmingly during the 100th session of Congress. The leadership of both Houses hosted the installation ceremony in a demonstration of bipartisan congressional support. This POW/MIA Flag, the only flag displayed in the United States Capitol Rotunda, stands as a powerful symbol of our national commitment to our POW/MIAs until the fullest possible accounting for Americans still missing in Southeast Asia has been achieved.