POW/MIA Recognition Day Ceremony and Candlelight Vigil
POW/MIA Recognition Day, also known as National POW/MIA Recognition Day, is a day of remembrance observed in the United States to honor and remember prisoners of war (POWs) and those who are missing in action (MIA). This annual event is typically observed on the third Friday in September, although it may vary slightly in some years.
The history of POW/MIA Recognition Day can be traced back to the Vietnam War era when thousands of American servicemen were held as prisoners of war or declared missing in action. The U.S. government and military made significant efforts to account for and return these individuals, but many were not able to return home. As a result, the National League of Families of American Prisoners and Missing in Southeast Asia, an advocacy group formed during the war, played a key role in raising awareness about the plight of POWs and MIAs and in advocating for their return.
In 1979, the U.S. Congress passed a resolution designating the third Friday in September as National POW/MIA Recognition Day. This day is intended to serve as a reminder to the nation of the sacrifices made by American service members who have been prisoners of war or have gone missing while serving their country. It is also a day to recognize the continued efforts of the U.S. government and military to locate and repatriate the remains of missing service members.
POW/MIA Recognition Day is an important occasion to remember the sacrifices of those who have served in the U.S. armed forces and to show support for efforts to bring closure to families who continue to wait for answers about their loved ones who are still missing.
Here at MNVM, we observed National POW/MIA Recognition Day by hosting a ceremony and candlelight vigil. This year’s speaker was US Marine Corps Veteran, Mr. Gary Ziegler. Mr. Ziegler read excerpts from his father’s journal which he kept as a POW in Germany during World War II. Joseph “Joe” Ziegler, a native of southeast Missouri, was born in Oran. He enlisted in the US Army in March 1941. He served with the 524th Military Police Battalion and in July 1944 transferred to 106th Infantry Division. He was captured by the Germans during the Battle of the Bulge and taken to a POW camp in Germany, where he was held from December 1944 until April 1945. He received an honorable discharge with the rank of Staff Sergeant at Jefferson Barracks in September 1945. He returned to southeast Missouri where he married and raised a family.