All those who fought and served their country when they received the call, were men and women of courage, judgment, integrity and dedication. Where does dedication end? You can never put an end to dedication. After all, those who remain Prisoners of War or are still Missing in Action are still serving with never ending dedication. For them, it can never be over. For us, we can never let their sacrifices, or them, be forgotten.
POW/MIA is most associated with those who were POWs during the Vietnam War. The National League of POW/MIA Families
, incorporated on May 28, 1970, was formed to obtain the release of all prisoners, the fullest possible accounting for the missing and repatriation of all recoverable remains of those who died serving our nation during the Vietnam War. The story of the POW/MIA flag
began in 1971, emblazoned with the motto, "You Are Not Forgotten”, to represent its important cause and to ensure that America remembers its responsibility to stand behind those who serve our nation and do everything possible to account for those who do not return.
The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency
's mission is to provide the fullest possible accounting for our missing personnel from past conflicts to their families and the nation. Within this mission, they search for missing personnel from World War II (WWII), the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Cold War, the Gulf Wars, and other recent conflicts. As of November 19, 2021 more than 81,600 Americans remain missing from these conflicts with 75% of the losses located in the Indo-Pacific, and over 41,000 of the missing are presumed lost at sea (i.e. ship losses, known aircraft water losses, etc.).
|WW II: 72,354
Korean War: 7,550
|Vietnam War: 1,584
Cold War: 126
|Gulf Wars: 5
El Dorado Canyon: 1
As you enter our hall, you will notice a special table, the missing man table, to remind us of those fallen, missing, or imprisoned U.S. Military service members.
The table before you is 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.
- This Table set for one is small - Symbolizing the frailty of one prisoner alone against his oppressors.
- The Tablecloth is white - Symbolizing the purity of their intentions to respond to their country's call to arms.
- The single Red Rose displayed in a vase reminds us of the families and loved ones of our comrades-in-arms who keep the faith awaiting their return.
- 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.
- The Candle, the candle is lit - Symbolizing the upward reach of their unconquerable spirit.
- The Bible represents the strength gained through faith to sustain us and those lost from our country, founded as one nation under God.
- A Slice of Lemon is on the bread plate to remind us of their bitter fate.
- There is Salt upon the bread plate – Symbolic of the families tears as they wait.
- The Glass is inverted - They cannot toast with us this night.
- The Chair - The chair is empty. They are not here.
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! - Until the day they come home, Remember!
National POW/MIA Recognition Day is observed on the third Friday in September to honor those who were prisoners of war and those who are still missing in action. As our nation pauses to remember their service and sacrifices, we must also remember the families who continue to grieve.
The costs of war extend far beyond the last shots being fired, and for MIA families, the passage of time does not heal their wounds. For them, the days become weeks, the weeks become months, then years, and sadly, for many, decades. The VFW pledges to never forget the service and sacrifice of America’s POWs and MIAs.