POW/MIA Poster Unveiled; En Route to Troops, Families, Vets Groups Worldwide
By Rudi Williams
American Forces Press Service
ARLINGTON, Va., Jun. 26, 2003 POW/MIA Recognition Day isn't until Sept. 19, but, as with tradition, this year's poster was unveiled June 26 during a national organization's annual meeting, according to Jerry D. Jennings.
The unveiling took place during the convening here of the National League of Families of American Prisoners and Missing in Southeast Asia June 26-28.
Jennings, deputy assistant secretary of defense for POW/Missing Personnel Affairs, is not only concerned about those missing from the Vietnam War. His organization searches the world for remains of missing Americans from all wars.
The dominant picture on this year's poster was taken in March of infantrymen fighting in the desert during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
"American warriors of yesterday and today have never failed to answer their nation's call," Jennings told the audience. "Through selfless sacrifice, they've brought to the entire world a concept closely associated with American ideals - freedom!
"Freedom - a word with so many meanings to so many people, yet a word that clearly means, 'This is America!' he said.
Pointing out that this year's poster reflects on the past and the present, Jennings said, "The somber, black POW/MIA flag - a national symbol that's internationally recognized - is a firm reminder of those still missing and of their families who have waited decades for answers."
He said the words "You are not forgotten," which grace the POW/MIA flag, "reminds us of their sacrifice - for our freedom."
Jennings said the rippling red, white and blue banner on the poster is clear and proud through the smoke of battle and leads American warriors forward. "Yes, we are at war," he said calmly.
"It leads the warriors forward toward freedom for oppressed peoples, toward freedom for those who know the word that means so much to the world," he said. "Freedom lies in the hearts of the people of an entire nation. It lies in the ideals that are so richly American. And it rests on the shoulders of those we honor on this special day and we'll honor again in September."
Noting that last year's poster was a huge success, Jennings said 20,000 more copies were printed this year, bringing the total to 150,000.
The poster is being sent out to all DoD military units around the world, according to Larry Greer, public affairs officer for the POW/Missing Personnel Office. "It's also being sent to all veterans organizations' posts and chapters worldwide, all POW/MIA family organizations and to all Veterans Affairs hospitals and service centers," Greer noted.
He said the poster is on his organization's Web site at http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo or by writing to DPMO, 2400 Defense Pentagon, Washington, D.C. 20301-2400.
Jennings noted that there are more than 88,000 servicemen still unaccounted for from past conflicts. "Their families wait. Our work is not done," he emphasized.
"More than 140,000 Americans since World War I have endured the hardships of captivity as prisoners of war," Jennings said. "Their sacrifices - for freedom - must never be forgotten. This nation especially honors their names, their undying spirit and their memory on Sept. 19, 2003."
The nation will celebrate POW/MIA Recognition Day on that date, which is proclaimed by the president and most states.
The league, which originated on the West Coast in the late 1960s, works 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 during the Vietnam War.