POW/MIA Recognition Day is commemorated on the third Friday of every September, a date that's not associated with any particular war. Resolutions making it official were passed in 1979 by Congress and the president after the families of the more than 2,500 Vietnam War POW/MIAs pushed for full accountability.
The point of POW/MIA Recognition Day is to ensure that America remembers and shows that it stands behind those who serve, and to make sure the Nation does everything it can to account for those who have never returned.
The remains of almost 82,000 Americans are still missing, according to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA).
The DPAA reports that the numbers of missing soldiers from conflicts as:
- 73,515 from World War II (an approximate number due to limited or conflicting data)
- 7,841 from the Korean War
- 1,626 from Vietnam
- 126 from the Cold War
- 6 from conflicts since 1991
The DPAA further denotes that about 75 percent of those missing Americans are somewhere in the Asia-Pacific. More than 41,000 have been presumed lost at sea. Efforts to find those men, identify them and bring them home are constant. For example, the DPAA said that in the past year it has accounted for 41 men missing during the Korean War: 10 had been previously buried as unknowns, 26 were from remains turned over by North Korea in the 1990s, 1 was from a recovery operation, and 4 were combinations of remains and recovery operations.
Each year, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund also honors these lost soldiers along with the National League of POW/MIA Families by hosting a Candle Remembrance at the Vietnam Memorial. It is a unique way to remember the more than 1,500 still missing and otherwise unaccounted-for, as well as their families.
April 29, 2016 - Public Law 114 - 147 - National POW/MIA Remembrance Act of 2015
An act to direct the Architect of the Capitol to place in the United States Capitol a chair honoring American Prisoners of War/Missing in Action.
July 15, 2014 - House Hearing, 113th Congress - Government Accountability Office Review of the Prisoner of War/Missing in Action (POW/MIA) Community and the Restructuring of these Agencies as Proposed by the Department of Defense
- POW/MIA Recognition Day Toolkit (PDF) from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA)
- 2018 National POW/MIA Recognition Day Poster Unveiled from the DPAA