Today is POW/MIA Recognition Day, a chance to honor the more than 83,000 personnel still unaccounted for from past conflicts.
“America remains steadfast in our determination to recover our missing patriots. Our work is not finished until our heroes are returned safely to our shores or a full accounting is provided to their loved ones. We must care for the men and women who have served so selflessly in our name, and we must carry forward the legacy of those whose fates are still unknown. Today, and every day, we express our profound appreciation to our service members, our veterans, our military families, and all those who placed themselves in harm’s way to sustain the virtues that are the hallmarks of our Union,” President Obama said in a proclamation.
The POW/MIA is being flown today over the White House; the United States Capitol; the Departments of State, Defense, and Veterans Affairs; the Selective Service System Headquarters; the World War II Memorial; the Korean War Veterans Memorial; the Vietnam Veterans Memorial; United States post offices; national cemeteries; and other locations across our country. “We raise this flag as a solemn reminder of our obligation to always remember the sacrifices made to defend our Nation,” Obama said.
However, the president is not attending the Pentagon ceremony led by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey. Obama headed to Kansas City to tout progress in economic recovery, a continuance of his ill-timed celebration on Monday.
Observances around the country are traditionally held on the third Friday in September. The day is one of six each year that Congress has mandated the flying of the POW/MIA flag.
“As we honor and remember those Americans who have spent time as Prisoners of War and those who remain Missing in Action, I extend my deepest gratitude for our military personnel and veterans,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said. “As the son of a World War II pilot who spent time as a Prisoner of War, I am especially grateful for the sacrifices made. My prayers continue to be with the families of those who are missing, and I pray for them and their loved ones.”
Two separate reviews have found the Defense Department’s operation for locating prisoners of war and service members missing in action to be disorganized and “dysfunctional” despite a 2009 directive from Congress to meet annual identification and recovery targets by 2015.