“You are Not Forgotten”

During the early 1970’s, after friends and families of MIAs and POWs in Vietnam plowed the ground and sowed the seeds, a popular movement took hold in the grass roots of the American landscape.

Seemingly lost among the war protests of the time, prisoners of war and those missing in action went uncounted and unremembered—but only by the general public.

Their friends and families had not forgotten them and launched an effort to remind the broader American public that whatever one’s opinion about the Vietnam Conflict, these men existed, every day paying the price to prevent the spread of communism; or maybe in reality, they were simply paying the price for being drafted and seduced into what many deemed an imperialist conflict in a little country thousands of miles from home.

The National League of Families of American Prisoners and Missing in Southeast Asia formed as a result of their families’ anguish, and soon, a flag was commissioned. Mrs. Michael Hoff, wife of a soldier missing in action, contacted a flag company who then contacted advertising executive Newton Heisley, a veteran of World War II and the father of Jeffery Heisley who had served in the Marines but had been sent home from a Corp training program, gaunt and emaciated, with hepatitis.

It is his silhouette that graces the black and white flag designed by his father and that has flown since 1971. We have known it as the nation’s officially recognized POW/MIA Flag since 1990 when U.S. Public Law 101-355 passed. It is the only flag that flies continuously in the United States Capitol’s rotunda, and it is also the only flag other than the Stars and Stripes that has ever flown over the White House.

Today, the POW/MIA Flag represents all of the more than 89,000 post-WWII missing soldiers, and all who fly it remain committed to the remembrance and full accounting of all soldiers still missing in action.

–Carol Frome