National POW/MIA Recognition Day is Friday, Sept. 20, 2013. Each year the president issues a proclamation asking Americans to observe the day as a remembrance of the nation’s service members who were held prisoner or are still missing, and their families.
The day’s events include a Pentagon commemoration ceremony hosting former prisoners of war, family members, military service members and distinguished guests. Traditionally held on the third Friday in September, the event will include formal military honors and remarks from a keynote speaker.
Observances of National POW/MIA Recognition Day are held across the country on military installations, at state capitols, in local communities, schools and at various veterans' facilities. Many events observe the tradition of a “Missing Man Table,” which is a set dinner table that remains empty in honor of the more than 83,000 missing service members from past conflicts.
As a result of resolutions passed in Congress, the first official commemoration of POW/MIAs was in 1979, when the first national ceremony was held. The observance is one of six days of the year that Congress has mandated the flying of the POW/MIA flag, created by the National League of Families, at major military installations, national cemeteries, all post offices, VA medical facilities, the World War II Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the offices of the secretaries of state, defense and veterans affairs, the director of the selective service system and the White House.
The Department of Defense has more than 600 people dedicated to the worldwide mission of accounting for the more than 83,000 missing service members from conflicts as far back as World War II.
For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for missing Americans, visit the DPMO website at http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo or call 703-699-1169.