Monday, July 8, 2013

POW/MIA Families

One of the worst tragedies of war is that some soldiers become, "Missing."  Their loved ones both mourn and hope.  The years drag on and the long wait for answers can become unbearable.  What could be worse than the emotional turmoil of not knowing?

Prisoners of War, soldiers captured by enemy soldiers during times of war, are casualties that can all too often be easy to forget.  You can't ignore the image of crosses lined in neat rows at Arlington, and other National cemeteries, that remind us of the high cost of freedom.  In any gathering of veterans, the scars of war wounds and evidence of missing limbs quickly reminds us of the sacrifice of those who have fought for freedom.   It is impossible to forget those Killed in Action (KIA) or Wounded In Action (WIA) because the evidence of their sacrifice is ever before us. 

Sadly, the same can not be said for those who are Missing In Action or who may have been taken prisoner by the enemy and never repatriated.  Since World War I more than 200,000 Americans have been listed as Prisoners of War or Missing in Action.  Less than half of them were returned at the end of hostilities, leaving more than 125,000 American servicemen Missing In Action since the beginning of World War I.

During the 14-years of American involvement in Southeast Asia, and specifically the Vietnam War, more than 2,500 Americans were captured or listed as missing in action.  The politics of our Nation's most unpopular war could have eclipsed the fate of these dedicated soldiers, were it not for the NATIONAL LEAGUE OF FAMILIES.  As the spouses, children, parents and other family members of soldiers missing in Southeast Asia banded together to keep the plight of their loved ones before the American conscience, the organization grew in strength and influence that reached all the way into the White House.  Through the League the missing and the imprisoned servicemen had a voice, but by 1971 something more was needed.  Mrs. Michael Hoff, whose husband was among the missing, believed that what the cause lacked was a standard....a flag to remind more fortunate families of those who were still unaccounted for.


                                                    LEAVE NO SOLDIER BEHIND

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