National POW/MIA Recognition Day
National POW/MIA Recognition Day gives us a chance to reflect on our POW/MIAs, their sacrifices for our country, and their final mission home.
This day is especially close to our hearts. We spend every day of the year researching, searching for, and striving to bring our MIAs home. For us, every day is POW/MIA Recognition Day.
But these are is proving to be extraordinary years. We find ourselves — along with virtually everyone else — facing extraordinary challenges.
On the one hand, we are eager for things to get back to normal. On the other hand, we recognize that our current life challenges represent a fraction of the disruption our POW/MIAs faced.
We recognize it isn’t how one lives their life when everything goes according to the plan that is defining. Rather, it is how we manage the unexpected challenges that matter most. Again, we turn to our MIAs for their example, and they do not fail us. They teach, speak, and serve even now 75 years after World War II.
Keeping America’s Promise
Our country makes a sacred promise to the people who wear her cloth. If a service member falls in combat, every effort will be made to bring the fallen home. It is a promise that carries weight, especially with those who serve and their families.
In 1993, Pat Scannon realized that almost a hundred MIAs were n Palau and thousands worldwide remained unaccounted for decades after the war. He committed to spending his time and resources to bring them home. Then, it was one man’s mission to help keep America’s promise to bring MIAs home. Now, it has taken on a life of its own.
Bringing our MIAs home is not just a government promise. We, the people, are more than an institution.
We are Americans, standing together to recognize and honor so many who gave up all of their tomorrows for ours.
Bringing our MIAs home is a mission for every American.
The Final Mission
In the beginning, we thought our mission — bringing MIAs home for their recognition, their family’s closure, and for a grateful nation — was the final mission.
What we learned over time is that our MIAs, even now, continue to serve us. Coming home is their final mission.
What we thought was their last act of service, sacrificing their lives in defense of the US in WWII, was the prelude to an even greater mission decades after the war ended. When our POW/MIA service members return home, they come home to a grateful nation.
They also return to a nation beset with challenges. The country which our MIAs helped turn into a world leader is a nation in crisis again.
Our MIAs return as ethereal reminders of who we are as Americans and what our country stands for. They remind us together we can overcome vast, almost insurmountable challenges.
Americans unite to welcome our MIAs home. We crowd the streets, rain or shine, wave flags, feel lumps in our throats, and try to hold back tears. We feel hope, unity, gratitude, and love.
They remind us that Americans of every color and creed fought and sacrificed for a better future they would not live to enjoy. Our MIAs remind us that hundreds of thousands of people died for peace, freedom, and justice.
They silently point to our responsibility to carry that torch forward, learn from the past, and spare our children from making sacrifices that have already been made.
Our returning MIAs are emissaries of peace, kinship, and commitment. Hailing from the past, they intersect the present and change the trajectory of the future.
POW/MIA Recognition Day: Living Legacy
On POW/MIA Recognition Day, we recognize there are 82,000 MIAs. We know it is impossible to recognize each individual service member who gave up their life in service to the country and to us. Rather, we recognize we are their living legacy. Everything we do, we do because others sacrificed so we may do so.
Our MIAs bring consciousness to our actions, words, and intentions. They are, in many ways, the model for our values-oriented approach.
As a team, we strive for the highest level of integrity in our personal and professional lives every day. Not just because it is the right thing to do.
We do it as a salute to all who have come before us and gave us the gift of freedom. We make it a priority to integrate the best of the old with the best of the new. We let our actions speak for themselves and work indirectly and in real-time toward a unified, respectful, and sustainable future.
Like those who came before us, we use our values as a compass to have a positive influence on as many people as possible. Especially to our POW/MIAs and their families. Especially on National POW/MIA Recognition Day.
- From One Man’s Vision to Every American’s Mission
- Finding MIAs: The Impact on MIA Families
- Derek Abbey, Ph.D., Project Recover President & CEO
*This post was first published in 2020 and updated in 2022 for this article.