In 1970, an MIA wife and member of the National League of POW/MIA Families recognized the need for a symbol of our POW/MIAs. Prompted by an article in the Jacksonville, Florida, Times-Union, she contacted a flag manufacturing firm, Annin & Company, which had made a banner for the newest member of the United Nations, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) as part of their policy to provide flags to all UN member states. The VP of this firm was sympathetic and, working with an Annin-contracted advertising agency employee, Newt Heisley, designed a flag to represent America’s missing men. Following League approval, the flags were manufactured for distribution. Wanting the greatest possible visibility of the symbol to advocate improved treatment for and answers on America’s POW/MIAs, no trade mark or copyright was sought. Today’s widespread use of the League’s POW/MIA flag is not legally restricted and the League does not share in profits from commercial sales.
Other than “Old Glory,” the League’s POW/MIA flag is the only flag ever to fly over the White House, having been displayed in this place of honor on National POW/MIA Recognition Day since 1982. On March 9, 1989, a POW/MIA flag that had flown over White House on National POW/MIA Recognition Day in1988 was installed in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda as a result of legislation passed overwhelmingly during the 100th Congress. In a demonstration of bipartisan Congressional support, the leadership of both Houses hosted the installation ceremony. On August 10, 1990, the 101st Congress passed U.S. Public Law 101-355, which recognized the League’s POW/MIA flag and designated it “as the symbol of our Nation’s concern and commitment to resolving as fully as possible the fates of Americans still prisoner, missing and unaccounted for in Southeast Asia, thus ending the uncertainty for their families and the Nation”.
Passage by the 105th Congress of Section 1082 of the 1998 Defense Authorization Act required that the League’s POW/MIA flag fly six days each year: Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, National POW/MIA Recognition Day and Veterans Day. It must be displayed at the White House, the U.S. Capitol, the Departments of State, Defense and Veterans Affairs, the Selective Service System headquarters, major military installations as designated by the Secretary of Defense, all Federal cemeteries, and all offices of the U.S. Postal Service. In addition to the stipulated dates, Department of Veterans Affairs voluntarily displays our POW/MIA flag 24/7. The National Vietnam Veterans, Korean War Veterans and World War II Memorials are also now required by law to display the POW/MIA flag daily. All 50 States have adopted similar laws, as have local governments nationwide.
LEAGUE POLICY ON POW/MIA FLAG DISPLAY At the October 7 2015 Board of Directors Meeting, it was reconfirmed by the unanimous SENSE OF THE BOARD that the League endorses Federal law requiring our POW/MIA flag to be displayed on the six specified days each year at all locations named and, further, appreciates, supports, and encourages actions taken by all states, counties and cities to display our flag 24/7