Prominent federal buildings and national war memorials will now fly the iconic POW/MIA flag alongside the American flag throughout the year thanks to legislation signed into law Thursday.
The proposal, passed without objection in the House last month and the Senate earlier this year, is designed to help highlight the continued sacrifice of military families whose loved ones are still unaccounted for overseas, estimated at about 82,000 individuals. President Donald Trump finalized the measure on Thursday night.
Veterans advocates praised the move as an important message to the entire country.
Officials from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency identified more than 200 missing service members this fiscal year.
“The daily display of the POW/MIA flag at all prominent federal properties now serves as a daily reminder that these heroes, and their families, are forever etched in our DNA,” said Veterans of Foreign Wars National Commander William Schmitz in a statement.
The flag — created in 1972 for the National League of Families of American Prisoners and Missing in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War — has been flown at numerous federal properties over the years, but typically only on special occasions and holidays.
Mandatory raising of the flag had only been required on six days each year: Armed Forces Day in May, Memorial Day in May, Flag Day in June, Independence Day in July, National POW/MIA Recognition Day in September, and Veterans Day in November.
Advocates began pushing for the year-long display of the flag earlier this year after some lawmakers in Washington, D.C. stopped displaying the black and white “you are not forgotten” banner outside their congressional offices.
The law applies only to a specific set of federal buildings, including the White House, U.S. Capitol, the Pentagon and Department of Veterans Affairs headquarters. Every post office throughout the country will also be required to fly the POW/MIA flag.
The remains of a Michigan soldier who went missing during the Korean War’s fierce Battle of Chosin Reservoir are being returned home after DNA testing confirmed that he died in that battle nearly 70 years ago.
In addition, display of the flag will be required at every major U.S. military installation, every national cemetery, and numerous high-profile war-related sites like the World War II Memorial, and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
The proposal was sponsored by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Rep. Chris Pappas, D-N.H.