ROLLING THUNDER NATIONAL
Rolling Thunder Press Releases. YOU ARE NOT FORGOTTEN.
ROLLING THUNDER NATIONAL
Until July 19, 1979, no commemoration was held to honor America’s POW/MIA, those returned and those still missing and unaccounted for from our nation’s wars. That first year, resolutions were passed in the Congress and the national ceremony was held at the National Cathedral, Washington, D.C. The missing man formation was flown by the 1st Tactical Squadron, Langley AFB, Virginia. The Veterans Administration published a poster including only the letters “POW/MIA” and that format was continued until 1982, when a black and white drawing of a POW in harsh captivity was used to convey the urgency of situation and the priority that President Ronald Reagan assigned to achieving the fullest possible accounting for Americans still missing from the Vietnam War.
National POW/MIA Recognition Day legislation was introduced yearly, until 1995 when it was deemed by Congress that legislation designating special commemorative days would no longer be considered by Congress. The President now signs a proclamation each year. In the early years, the date was routinely set in close proximity to the National League of Families of American Prisoners and Missing in Southeast Asia’s annual meetings. In the mid-1980’s, the American Ex-POW's decided that they wished to see the date established as April 9th, the date during World War II when the largest number of Americans were captured, As a result, legislation urged by the American Ex-POW's was passed covering two years July 20, 1984 and April 9, 1985, as the commemoration dates.
In 1984 National POW/MIA Recognition Day ceremony was held at the White House, hosted by President Ronald Reagan. At that most impressive ceremony, the Reagan Administration balanced the focus to honor all returned POW's and renew national commitment to accounting as fully as possible for those still missing. Perhaps the most impressive Missing Man formation ever flown was that year, up the Ellipse and over the White House. Unfortunately, the 1985 ceremony was canceled due to inclement weather, a concern that had been expressed when April 9th date was proposed.
Subsequently, in an effort to accommodate all returned POW's and all Americans still missing and unaccounted for from all wars, the National League of Families of American Prisoners and Missing in Southeast Asia proposed the third Friday in September, a date not associated with any particular war and not in conjunction with any organization’s national convention. Most National POW/MIA Recognition Day ceremonies have been held at the Pentagon. On September 19, 1986, however, the national ceremony was held on the steps of the U. S. Capitol facing the Mall, again concluding with a flight in Missing Man formation.
National POW/MIA Recognition Day Ceremonies are now being held throughout the nation and around the world on military installations, ships at sea, state capitols, at school, churches, national veteran and civic organizations, police and fire departments, fire stations, etc.
**National League of Families of American Prisoners and Missing**
You Are Not Forgotten – that's the central phrase behind the POW/MIA remembrance movement which honors America's prisoners of war, those who are still missing in action and their families.
Many of our service members suffered as prisoners of war during several decades of varying conflicts. While some of them made it home, tens of thousands more never did.
Here are four things to know about how this important movement got started, what it means and how you can help recognize it.
POW/MIA Recognition Day
POW/MIA Recognition Day is commemorated on the third Friday of every September, a date that's not associated with any particular war. In 1979, Congress and the president passed resolutions making it official after the families of the more than 2,500 Vietnam War POW/MIAs pushed for full accountability.
During the first POW/MIA Recognition Day commemoration, a ceremony was held at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., while the 1st Tactical Squadron from Langley Air Force Base in Virginia flew the missing man formation. Most ceremonies since then have been held at the Pentagon, and many smaller observances have cropped up across the nation and around the world on military installations.
The point of POW/MIA Recognition Day is to ensure that American remembers to stand behind those who serve and to make sure we do everything we can to account for those who have never returned.
In order to comprehend the importance of this movement, all you need to do is look at the sheer number of Americans who have been listed as POW/MIAs.
According to a Congressional Research Service report on POWs:
According to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, 81,900 Americans who fought in those wars are still missing, including:
The DPAA said 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, one was from a recovery operation, and four were combinations of remains and recovery operations.
The POW/MIA Flag
The traditional POW/MIA flag that's well-known across America was actually created many years before the remembrance day became official.
In 1971, a woman named Mary Hoff contacted a flag company near her home to see if a flag reminding people of POWs and the missing could be made. She was one of the many waiting to see if her husband, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Michael Hoff, would ever return home after his plane had been shot down over Laos.
World War II pilot Newt Heisley designed the now-famous flag, which was made in black and white to represent the sorrow, anxiety and hope symbolized by the image of the gaunt man featured on it.
For every POW/MIA Recognition Day since 1982, the flag has flown just below the stars and stripes at the White House – the only other flag to ever do so. In 1998, Congress ordered it to also be displayed on Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day and Veterans Day.
Bracelets Help Continue the Support
While the POW/MIA flag reminds us to never forget our prisoners of war and missing in action, bracelets also became a popular personal form of remembrance in the 1970s. They're still worn and purchased by families and veterans, who are also wearing bracelets for those who were killed in action in more recent wars.
If you don't feel the need to buy a flag or bracelet, it's still important to remember the extreme sacrifices of our POW/MIAs and America's pact to them: That we will take care of them and, no matter how much time has passed, they will make it back home.
Know Your Military
Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Space Force and Coast Guard
The armed forces of the United States.
The Army National Guard and the Air National Guard are reserve components of their services and operate in part under state authority.
Connect with the Veterans Crisis Line to reach caring, qualified responders with the Department of Veterans Affairs. Many of them are Veterans themselves.
The major function of Rolling Thunder®, Inc. is to publicize the POW-MIA issue:
To educate the public that many American Prisoners of War were left behind after all previous wars and to help correct the past and to protect the future Veterans from being left behind should they become Prisoners Of War-Missing In Action. We are committed to helping American Veterans from all wars.
Rolling Thunder®, Inc. is a non-profit organization and everyone donates his or her time because they believe in the POW/MIA Issue that we are working on.
Rolling Thunder® Charities, Inc. was created in 2007 to start a fund from which we could address the needs of Veterans, our active duty Military and their families who have fallen between the cracks and have not received the help that they deserve.
Often, our returning Troops are receiving quality medical care and support from the VA. However, too many times “the system” fails to meet their critical needs for one reason or another...
Each December on National Wreaths Across America Day, our mission to Remember, Honor and Teach is carried out by coordinating wreath-laying ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery, as well as at more than 2,000 additional locations in all 50 U.S. states, at sea and abroad.