History of the League's POW/MIA Flag
In 1971, Mrs. Michael Hoff, an MIA wife and member of the National League of Families, 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 United Nations members states. 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.
On March 9, 1989, an official League flag, which flew over the White House on 1988 National POW/MIA
Recognition Day, was installed in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda as a result of legislation passed overwhelmingly
during the 100th Congress. In a demonstration of bipartisan Congressional support, the leadership of both
Houses hosted the installation ceremony.
The League’s POW/MIA flag is the only flag ever displayed in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda where it will stand
as a powerful symbol of national commitment to America’s POW/MIAs until the fullest possible accounting
has been achieved for U.S. personnel still missing and unaccounted for from the Vietnam War.
On August 10, 1990, the 101st Congress passed U.S. Public Law 101-355, which recognized the League’s
POW/MIA flag and designated it "as the symbol of our Nation’s concern and commitment to resolving as
fully as possible the fates of Americans still prisoner, missing and unaccounted for in Southeast Asia, thus
ending the uncertainty for their families and the Nation".
The importance of the League’s POW/MIA flag lies in its continued visibility, a constant reminder of the
plight of America’s POW/MIAs. Other than "Old Glory", the League’s POW/MIA flag is the only flag ever to
fly over the White House, having been displayed in this place of honor on National POW/MIA Recognition
Day since 1982. Passage by the 105th Congress of Section 1082 of the 1998 Defense Authorization Act
requires that the League’s POW/MIA flag fly six days each year: Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day, Flag
Day, Independence Day, National POW/MIA Recognition Day and Veterans Day. It must be displayed at the
White House, the U.S. Capitol, the Departments of State, Defense and Veterans Affairs, headquarters of
the Selective Service System, major military installations as designated by the Secretary of the Defense, all
Federal cemeteries and all offices of the U.S. Postal Service. By law passed in 2002, it must fly year-round
at the National Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Korean War Veterans Memorial and the World War II
Used with the permission of:
The National League of Families of American Prisoners and Missing in Southeast Asia
1005 North Glebe Road
Arlington, Virginia 22201
Below is the text of the POW/MIA Remembrance Service in honor of those who can
not be with us. We perform this ceremony at formal Legion functions to remind us
that we should never forget.
POW/MIA Remembrance Service
Those who have served, and those currently serving in the uniformed services of the United States, are
ever mindful that the sweetness of enduring peace has always been tainted by the bitterness of personal
sacrifice. We are compelled to never forget that while we enjoy our daily pleasures, there are others who
have endured and may still be enduring the agonies of pain, deprivation and imprisonment.
Before we begin, we pause to recognize our POWs and MIAs.
We call your attention to this small table, which occupies a place of dignity and honor. It is set for one,
symbolizing the fact that members of our armed services are missing from our ranks. They are referred to
as POWs and MIAs.
“We call them comrades.” They are unable to be with their loved ones and families, so we join together to
pay humble tribute to them, and to bear witness to their continued absence.
The table is small, symbolizing the frailty of one prisoner, alone against his or her suppressors.
The tablecloth is white, symbolic of the purity of their intentions to respond to their Country'’ call to arms.
The single rose in the vase signifies the blood they may have shed in sacrifice to ensure the freedom of
our beloved United States of America. This rose also reminds us of the families and friends of our missing
comrades who keep faith, while awaiting their return.
The red ribbon on the vase represents the red ribbons worn on the lapels of the thousands who demand,
with unyielding determination, a proper account of our comrades who are not among us.
A slice of lemon on the plate reminds us of their bitter fate.
The salt sprinkled on the plate reminds us of the countless fallen tears of families as they wait.
The glass is inverted, they cannot toast with us at this time.
The chair is empty. They are NOT here.
The candle is reminiscent of the light of hope, which lives in our hearts to illuminate their way home, away
from their captors, to open arms of a grateful nation.
The American flag reminds us that many of them may never return and have paid the supreme sacrifice to
insure our freedom.
Let us pray to the Supreme Commander that all of our comrades will soon be back within our ranks.
Let us remember—and never forget their sacrifice.
May God forever watch over them and protect them and their families
|Matt and Kathy Kingsbury
Posted as Honor Guard during