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While most people would prefer to live in times of peace, the men and women who serve in the military work hard to serve, protect and defend their nation in peace time and war time. And sometimes this even means sacrificing their freedom and their lives. 

National Former Prisoner of War Recognition Day is here to show special appreciation for these men and women who have given up so much.

History of National Former Prisoner of War Recognition Day

Each year, the President of the United States sets forth a proclamation to honor the courage of men and women who are former Prisoners of War (POWs), as well as recognizing those who are still Missing in Action (MIA).

National Former Prisoner of War Recognition Day is held on April 9 in recognition of the Bataan Death March of 1942. This was when tens of thousands of American and Filipino prisoners of war were made to march as part of the World War II activities. Around 78,000 prisoners were forced to walk a 66 mile trail, lasting 5-10 days, during which many of them were attacked, abused, beaten and killed.

In 1988, after four years of a movement seeking recognition, the US Congress approved the legislation set forth to recognize April 9 as an annual day of honor for former POWs. Since that time, National Former Prisoner of War Recognition Day seeks to honor and pay tribute to the more than 500,000 members of the American military who have sacrificed their own freedom as prisoners of war.

How to Observe National Former Prisoner of War Recognition Day

Show appreciation for the sacrifices made by former prisoners of war and those service people missing in action by honoring them on National Former Prisoner of War Recognition Day with some of these activities:

Visit the POW and MIA War Memorial

One way to observe National Former Prisoner of War Recognition Day is to visit the prisoner of war memorials. These memorials and museums aim to embrace, honor, educate and celebrate the future with respect to former POWs and MIA service members. Several are located throughout the US, including in Jacksonville, Florida; Winchester, Virginia; Andersonville, Georgia; and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Visit one of these or another military museum to gain a better understanding of the trials and sacrifices made by these POWs and MIA military persons.

Fly a POW/MIA Flag

Developed in 1972, the flag representing POW/MIA persons carries a black background with a bent head and the words “You are Not Forgotten”. Fly this flag at home or at a business in honor of National Former Prisoner of War Recognition Day, whether only throughout the week or all throughout the year.

Learn More about Prisoners of War

In observance of National Former Prisoner of War Recognition Day, it would be a great idea to find out more about the movement and the cause. One good place to get information is through the US government Department of Defense website. 

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