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  • Friday, September 16, 2022

    There’s a Reason for Our POW/MIA Empty Chair

    POWMIA flag
    By David R. Riley, Sr.

    Department Commander  

    A POW/MIA empty chair is present at all official meetings of The American Legion.

    It’s a physical symbol of the thousands and thousands of servicemembers unaccounted for.

    It’s a physical symbol of The America Legion’s commitment to achieving a full accounting of all U.S. servicemembers from all war eras who are either imprisoned or listed as missing in action.

    And it’s why the American Legion Family observes National POW/MIA Recognition Day on the third Friday of September.

    As part of the day of recognition, we ask Americans to pause and reflect on the sacrifices made by the military men and women who are imprisoned or unaccounted for. Rallies and ceremonies are held throughout the nation to honor those U.S. servicemembers who have yet to return home, and the families left without closure as to the fate of their loved ones.

    Let’s look at a few numbers. says that according to a Congressional Research Service report on POWs:

    • 130,201 World War II service members were imprisoned; 14,072 of them died.
    • 7,140 Korean War service members were imprisoned; 2,701 of them died.
    • 725 Vietnam War service members were imprisoned; 64 of them died.
    • 37 service members were imprisoned during conflicts since 1991, including both Gulf wars; none is still in captivity

    According to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA), more than 81,500 Americans remain missing from WWII, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Cold War, and the Gulf Wars and other conflicts. Of those missing, 75% are located in the Indo-Pacific, and over 41,000 of the missing are presumed lost at sea.

    We of The American Legion remain committed to the POW/MIA cause until all are accounted for. May God bless our POWs, MIAs and their families.