Friday, September 17th, 2010
Please take a moment to remember those who never came back. Today is National POW/MIA Recognition Day. And although our nation continues to push ahead and never forget, returning remains from two U.S. servicemen in Vietnam just last month, there is so much more to do. We should all observe this day of honor and remembrance.
Today, September 17, 2010, the stark black and white flag honoring America’s prisoners of war and those missing in action will be flown 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.
“As a grateful Nation, we can never repay the profound debt to our heroes, and we will not rest until we have accounted for the missing members of our Armed Forces,” the White House announced in a proclamation.
In May of 1981, I joined the first large delegation of American Veterans to return to Vietnam, six years after the end of the war. Organized by Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA), our two-week mission was “officially” non-diplomatic. Mike Wallace and crew joined us, producing four segments on the trip for 60 Minutes. We addressed the issues of Agent Orange, and met with the Foreign Minister, who announced to us a landmark decision to permit Amerasian children for the first time to leave the country and join their American families. But, most importantly, we met with high-ranking Vietnamese officials in marathon talks that ultimately resulted in the return of remains of American POW/MIA’s held by the North Vietnamese. We knew this was an important first step in our national healing process over Vietnam.
We continue to make progress. Just last month, the U.S. Department of Defense announced that the remains of two POW MIA U.S. servicemen, missing in action from the Vietnam War, have been identified and will be returned to their families for burial with full military honors. And although news like this represents the fruits of very hard work by extremely dedicated Americans, there is much more to do. These efforts must continue with a sense of urgency every day, until everyone comes home.
For additional information on the Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office’s (DPMO) mission to account for missing Americans, visit the DPMO Web site at http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo or call 703-699-1169.