What Is the POW/MIA Flag?

The POW/MIA flag has become synonymous with the United States Armed Forces. Also known simply as the POW flag, it symbolizes our country’s commitment to bringing service members who’ve been captured or gone missing. You’ll often find the POW/MIA flag displayed by the Army, Air Force, Coast Guard and Marines. With that said, the POW/MIA flag is also displayed by many civilians. To learn more about the POW/MIA flag, keep reading.

Overview of the POW/MIA Flag

Originally designed by Newt Hesley in the early 1970s, the POW/MIA flag consists of a prisoner of war standing in front of a guard tower. At the top are the words “POW*MIA,” followed by “You Are Not Forgotten” at the bottom. It features a monochrome color scheme. The POW/MIA flag features a black field with a black silhouette of the prisoner of the war. The rest of the flag is white.

Hesley designed the POW/MIA flag for the National League of Families of American Prisoners and Missing in Southeast Asia. Shortly after the flag was designed the National League of Families of American Prisoners and Missing in Southeast Asia petitioned the U.S. government to adopt it. Congress approved the POW/MIA flag in 1972, thus adding it to the United States’ list of officially recognized flags. The POW/MIA flag has since become recognized as a sign of honor and commitment to our nation’s captured and lost service members.

When to Display the POW/MIA Flag

You can display the POW/MIA flag year-round. With that said, the 1998 Defense Authorization Act outlines several dates on which it’s particularly fitting to display the POW/MIA flag. Among these dates are Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, National POW/MIA Recognition Day and Veterans Day. If you own a POW/MIA flag, be sure to display it on these dates.

If you’re going to display the POW/MIA flag in conjunction with the American flag, make sure it’s smaller — as well as lower — than the American flag. The POW/MIA flag can be displayed with the American flag on a single pole. However, the POW/MIA flag must be smaller than the American flag, and it must be hoisted to a lower height than the American flag. You can also display the POW/MIA flag and the American flag on separate poles. When doing so, the American flag should be positioned to the right of the POW/MIA flag (the flag’s own right or the viewer’s left).

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