Saturday, April 7, 2018

Gone But Never Forgotten: April 9 is National Former Prisoner of War Recognition Day

First proclaimed by Former President Ronald Reagan in 1987, National Former Prisoners of War Recognition Day honors the courageous men and women who endured brutal treatment at the hands of their captors, separation from family and who displayed incredible endurance and faith during their captivity.
On this day in 1942, the largest number of U.S. forces were captured by Japanese troops in the Bataan Peninsula in the Philippines. After battling through extreme conditions and prolonged battles, the captured troops were forced to march 65 miles to the prison camp (The "Bataan Death March"). Without medical attention, food or water thousands died.

The mistreatment continued for those who survived the brutal journey: In the compounds, deep in the jungle, the hardships, brutality, and suffering lasted more than two years for those who could survive.
Many POWs endured conditions much like this. These heroes deserve a day of recognition. An annual presidential proclamation is signed for National Former Prisoner of War Recognition Day and government officials, veterans, civic and private organizations observe the day with ceremonies and events. Some states require the POW/MIA flag to be flown on April 9.

According to the Department of Defense's POW/MIA Accounting Agency, currently more than 82,000 Americans remain missing from WWII, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Cold War, and the Gulf Wars/other conflicts. Out of the 82,000 missing, 75% of the losses are located in the Indo-Pacific