HISTORY OF THE POW/MIA FLAG
In 1971 Mrs. Michael Hoff, an MIA wife, recognized the need for a symbol representing our Prisoners of War and Missing in Action. Prompted by an article in the Jacksonville, Florida TIMES-UNION, Mrs. Hoff contacted Norman Rivkees, Vice-President of Annin & Company who made a banner for the newest member of the United Nations, the People's Republic of China, as a part of their policy to provide flags to all United Nations member nations. Mrs. Hoff found Mr. Rivkees very sympathetic to the Prisoner of War/Missing in Action issue and he, along with Annin's advertising agency, designed a flag to represent our missing men and women.
Since its inception this stark black and white flag, which was designed on behalf of American POW/MIAs from the Vietnam War, has come to represent our missing countrymen and women from all wars. The POW/MIA flag has been ruled legally to be "public domain" - as is the American flag; therefore, it cannot be claimed as the sole property by any organization or individual.
The POW/MIA flag flew over the White House for the first time on National POW/MIA Recognition Day, 1988. On 9 March 1989, it was installed in the United States Capitol Rotunda. This occurred as a result of legislation passed overwhelmingly during the 100th Congress and, additionally, in an extremely rare demonstration of bipartisan congressional support, the leadership of both Houses hosted the formal installation ceremony.
Further, by joint Congressional Resolution, the POW/MIA flag - the only flag ever to be displayed in the United States Capitol Rotunda - stands as powerful symbol of our national commitment to American Prisoners of War and Missing in Action.
On 10 August 1990, the 101st Congress passed US Public Law 101-355, which recognized the POW/MIA flag and designated it "as the symbol of our Nation's concern and commitment to resolving as fully as possible the fates of Americans still held prisoner, missing and unaccounted for in Southeast Asia, thus ending the uncertainty for their families and the Nation.
The POW/MIA flag's importance lies in the continued visibility of this symbol as a constant reminder of the plight of America's prisoners and missing. Other than "Old Glory," the POW/MIA flag is the only flag to fly over the White House, and has flown in this place of honor on every POW/MIA Recognition Day since 1982. In addition, the POW/MIA flag flies over our nation's capitol on Veterans Day and Memorial Day.
This very distinctive and special flag also flies over the National Vietnam Veterans Memorial, as well as other military memorials across the country; on Federal and State buildings, at each National Cemetery, and at military installations worldwide. It also flies at countless additional locations throughout the nation every day of the year.
Those Americans who fly the POW/MIA flag do so to demonstrate their loyalty and sincere dedication to all Prisoners of War and Missing in Action, and to their safe return - both alive and dead.
Flag etiquette specifies that the POW/MIA flag may be flown below the American flag and/or a state flag. However, it's size must be equal to or smaller than the flag that is flying above it. The correct order for three flags being flown on the same flagpole is the national flag, the state flag, and then the POW/MIA flag.