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Legislation expands days to fly POW/MIA flag

Reminder of the significance of service

The POW/MIA flag will now be displayed nine more days a year at public entities. Photo credit:

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Governor Jay Inslee's office announced that effective July 23, the recently unanimously passed House Bill 1204 mandates the display of the POW/MIA flag.

"Each public entity must display the National League of Families' POW/MIA flag along with the flag of the United States and the flag of the state upon or near the principal building of the public entity," read the announcement.

Public entity refers to every state agency, to include institutions of higher education, and every county, city and town.

In 2002 and in compliance with federal law, the Washington Legislature passed legislation requiring every state agency to fly the flag on POW/MIA Recognition Day, Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, Fourth of July and Veterans Day.

This latest legislation adds to the list the days whereby the POW/MIA flag must be flown.

The flag must now be displayed on the following days:  March 30 (Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day), April 9 (Former Prisoners of War Recognition Day), the third Saturday in May (Armed Forces Day), the last Monday in May (Memorial Day), June 14 (Flag Day), July 27 (National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day), the third Friday in September (National POW/MIA Recognition Day), Nov. 11 (Veterans Day) and Dec. 7 (Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day).

If the designated day falls on a Saturday or Sunday, then the POW/MIA flag must be displayed on the preceding Friday.

"The flag reminds the public, especially kids, about the significance of service," said a legislative spokesperson.

"There are people missing in action from war.  We want to raise awareness that rescue efforts are underway."

The POW/MIA flag is forever linked to the National League of POW/MIA Families and the Vietnam War.

Begun in June 1969, the league sought to raise public awareness about the mistreatment of POWs held by the North Vietnamese.

In 1971, Mary Hoff, whose husband was MIA, came up with the idea of creating a flag as the league's symbol.

She contacted Annin Flagmakers, the country's oldest and largest flag-maker.  The company asked its advertising agency, Hayden Advertising, to design the flag.

Presented with the assignment, Newton Heisley, a World War II veteran and graphic artist, drew three different designs.

The selected image of a gaunt man in profile, with a guard tower and a strand of barbed wire in the background, is the design recognized today.

As of June 2017, 1,606 members of the military are listed as missing in action or unaccounted for from the Vietnam War.

Thirty-eight of these MIAs are from Washington state.

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