POW MIA Flag History

pow mia flag

POW MIA Flag History

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pow mia flag

When & who created it?

In 1970, Mrs. Michael Hoff, a MIA (missing in action) wife and member of the National League of POW/MIA Families recognized the need for a symbol to honor the men and women missing. Norman Rivkees and Newt Heisley designed the Prisoners of War/Missing in Action flag. After it got approved by the League’s Board of Directors in 1972, POW MIA flags were manufactured for distribution.

No trademark or copyright was sought on the design of this symbolic flag because the creators wanted the widest possible area of use of this flag to advocate for better treatment and answers on American Prisoners of War/Missing Actions. Currently, use of the POW MIA flag is not legally restricted.

What does it mean?

The POW MIA flag consists of a silhouette of a Prisoner of War near a guard tower and barbed wire in white with a black field/background. The phrase ‘POW*MIA’ appear above the silhouette. On the bottom of the flag, you’ll see the words ‘You Are Not Forgotten’ in white.

On August 10, 1990, the Congress passed a United States Public Law, which officially recognized the flag and designated it “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…”


The POW MIA flag is a constant reminder of America’s unreturned veterans and members of service. The National Vietnam Veterans, Korean War Veterans, and the World War II Memorials are now currently required by law to display the POW MIA flag daily. It is a powerful symbol of America’s determination to account for all United States war personnel still missing and unaccounted for.

Did you know?…

  • In 1989, an official National League of POW MIA Families flag was installed in the United States Capitol Rotunda.
    – The Rotunda is a large, domed, circular room located in the center of the U.S. Capitol
    – It is the only flag to ever be displayed in the Rotunda
  • The League is a non-profit, tax-exempt, humanitarian organization that is funded solely on donations.
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs voluntarily displays the country’s POW MIA flag 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
pow mia flag

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Is it OK to fly the POW-MIA flag?
Civilians are free to fly the POW/MIA flag whenever they wish, and it is commonly flown in front of police stations, fire stations and veterans’ organizations across the United States.

What are the rules for flying a POW flag?
When displayed from a single flag pole, the POW/MIA flag should fly directly below, and be no larger than the United States flag. If on separate poles, the U.S. flag should always be placed to the right of other flags.

Can I fly the POW-MIA flag year round?
Postal Service facilities are required to fly the POW-MIA flag year-round under a new federal law. The law, which took effect in November, requires prominent federal buildings, national war memorials and Post Offices to fly the flag every day that the U.S. flag is flown

Why is the POW MIA flag black and white?
The solemn black-and-white banner originally stood as a tribute to the troops who fought in Vietnam and remain missing or unaccounted for. Today, it is also a symbol of all those who still haven’t come home from other conflicts, as well.

Is the POW MIA logo trademarked?
The POW/MIA logo has never been trademarked; anyone can use it on their products and DPAA does not manage or oversee its use.


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