Today is National Prisoner of War and Missing in Action Recognition Day. Some may wonder why this day is needed. Here are some statistics (see National POW/Missing Recognition Day in the United States):
There are 1,741 American personnel listed by the Defense Department’s POW/MIA Office as missing and unaccounted for from the Vietnam War, as of April 2009. The number of United States personnel accounted for since the end of the Vietnam War in 1975 is 841. About 90 percent of the 1,741 people still missing were lost in Vietnam or areas of Laos and Cambodia under Vietnam’s wartime control, according to the National League of Families website (cited in the United States Army website).
The United States Congress passed a resolution authorizing National POW/MIA Recognition Day to be observed on July 18, 1979. It was observed on the same date in 1980 and was held on July 17 in 1981 and 1982. It was then observed on April 9 in 1983 and July 20 in 1984. The event was observed on July 19 in 1985, and then from 1986 onwards the date moved to the third Friday of September. The United States president each year proclaims National POW/MIA Recognition Day. Many states in the USA also proclaim POW/MIA Recognition Day together with the national effort.
President Barack Obama released a statement as the day is commemorated:
“Americans who gave their last full measure of devotion deserve to be buried with honor and dignity, and those who are still unaccounted for must be returned to their families. We will never give up our search for them, and we will continue our work to secure the release of our citizens who are unjustly detained abroad.” — President Obama