President Joe Biden returned the Prisoner of War/Missing in Action (POW/MIA) flag atop the White House and issued a proclamation on Friday marking National Former Prisoner of War Recognition Day.
Several reporters noticed the flag flying beneath the American flag above the White House on Friday, and it was later confirmed by White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki.
“In keeping with the President and the First Lady’s commitment to honor the sacrifices of all those who serve — including veterans, their families, caregivers, and survivors — the President and First Lady have restored the POW/MIA flag to its original location on top of the White House Residence,” Psaki told reporters during the daily press briefing.
Psaki said the move came after Sens. Hassan, Warren, and Cotton wrote to Biden early in his administration to request the return of the flag. “This follows passage of a bipartisan — bipartisan legislation in 2019, led by those same senators, which requires the flag to be displayed whenever the American flag flies on federal buildings,” Psaki added.
In May 2020, former President Donald Trump had quietly ordered the flag moved from atop the White House flagpole and into a designated memorial garden on the grounds. The move was criticized because the garden is located in a less visible place, and counter to the law that requires the flag be displaced in a “manner designed to ensure visibility to the public.”
Biden’s statement on Friday called on federal, state, and local governments and organizations to “honor all who have borne the hardships or captivity in service to our Nation, remember the brave men and women who were held as prisoners in foreign lands during our Nation’s past conflicts, and recognize those at home who anxiously awaited their loved ones’ return.”
Biden’s full proclamation said:
Throughout our Nation’s history, those who have served in our Armed Forces have steadfastly stood in defense of the United States and of freedom throughout the world. Although countless courageous service members and civilians have given their lives for our Nation, more than half a million others have sacrificed their own freedom as prisoners of war so the cause of liberty always prevails.
Enduring with limitless dignity and determination, these former prisoners of war are a powerful reminder that their indomitable spirit could not be broken, even by brutal treatment in contravention of international law and morality. Despite the terrible suffering inflicted upon them by their captors in harsh prisons and camps in Europe and Asia, American prisoners of war steadfastly demonstrated their devotion to duty, honor, and country.
On this day and every day, let us honor all who have borne the hardships of captivity in service to our Nation, remember the brave men and women who were held as prisoners in foreign lands during our Nation’s past conflicts, and recognize those at home who anxiously awaited their loved ones’ return. Their faith in God, love of family, and trust in our Nation are an inspiration to all Americans, and we will always remember their sacrifices.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR., President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim April 9, 2021, as National Former Prisoner of War Recognition Day. I call upon all Americans to observe this day by honoring the service and sacrifice of all former prisoners of war as our Nation expresses its eternal gratitude for their sacrifice. I also call upon Federal, State, and local government officials and organizations to observe this day with appropriate ceremonies and activities.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this ninth day of April, in the year of our Lord two thousand twenty-one, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-fifth.
JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR.