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National POW/MIA Recognition Day

Friday, the nation observed National POW/MIA Recognition Day by proclamation of President Barack Obama. The day has been observed every third Friday of September since Congress passed the 1998 Defense Authorization Act. The Texas State Cemetery hosted a service honoring all the Texans and Americans who were declared Missing in Action or suffered as a Prisoner of War on Saturday. Read this year's presidential proclamation here:

The Cemetery is an appropriate place to hold such a ceremony. Many of the men interred within the Cemetery grounds were taken as prisoners of war in almost every war the United States fought in. From Robert Rankin, who was taken prisoner during the American Revolution to numerous Confederate enlisted men taken prisoner by Union forces to World War II. There is a recent blog article linked off the front page dealing with one of the men taken prisoner during World War II. Kyle Thompson was one of the Texas "Lost Battalion," a Texas National Guard Unit taken prisoner after the Battle of Java in World War II. The group of Texans was a small part of thousands of men taken prisoner and forced to work on the infamous "Death Railway" built across Burma and Thailand. You can read more about Thompson in the blog article titled Kyle Thompson - A Thousand Cups of Rice. Find the blog post here:

The flags flying at the center of the Cemetery near the memorial section over the weekend may not be familiar to visitors and that is for a special reason. The black flags honor Prisoners of War and those declared Missing in Action and are only flown a few days each year. The four white flags flying next to the POW/MIA flags represent the Congressional Medal of Honor given to recipients in each branch of service. Read more about the POW/MIA flag here (.pdf file):

Read more about the Department of Defense's efforts to identify soldiers declared Missing in Action and their efforts on behalf of former Prisoners of War through the DOD's website here:

Photographs from the POW/MIA Recognition Day Ceremony, 2011 are below. The Cemetery ceremony featured Vietnam veteran speakers, a motorcycle honor guard, a military salute, playing of taps and the reading of the names of the missing.

- WE