Two prominent veterans organizations are asking House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to put POW/MIA flags back up outside of every congressional office, after some Democrats took them down last month and replaced them with flags to honor the International Transgender Day of Visibility on March 31.
Rolling Thunder, Inc. and AMVETS this week released a letter they wrote to Pelosi on April 9 asking that the POW/MIA flags — which honor Prisoners of War and those Missing in Action.
“United States Capitol police officers recently pointed out to me that many members of the U.S. House of Representatives are no longer displaying the POW/MIA flag,” said AMVETS National Commander Rege Riley in a joint statement on Monday.
“Long a fixture in the halls of Congress, we now count about 40 percent of the elected lawmakers opting to display other flags or no flags where the POW-MIA flag long stood. That’s an unacceptable slap in the face.”
The two groups say 82,000 U.S. service members are still missing in action or imprisoned by enemy forces from the World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Cold War, and the Gulf Wars and other conflicts.
“Displaying that flag in the halls of Congress is a simple but powerful way to ensure every one of our elected representatives keeps in mind there are still missing and possibly imprisoned service members,” said Rolling Thunder, Inc. National Executive Director Artie Muller in the joint statement.
“It is the very least they can do. We aren’t going to accept anything less,” Muller added.
They wrote to Pelosi in the April 9 letter:
The prominent posting of this flag has long served as a daily reminder to our elected lawmakers, their staff and all who visit the halls of Congress that we as a nation will not forget the 82,000 service members still unaccounted for. We will never forget!”
We acknowledge the POW/MIA flags have, in some instances, been removed from their long-time positions to make room to show support or raise awareness for other notable causes. We do not take issue with those other flags or causes. But it is wholly unacceptable to take down the POW/MIA flag until every American service member is brought home or accounted for.
We understand it is possible some lawmakers do not understand the meaning and purpose of the flag. We urge them to learn about the POW/MIA flag and issue as a whole. Jointly, Rolling Thunder and AMVETS offer up our staff and members t help in their learning.
Together, Rolling Thunder and AMVETS call on every member of Congress to ensure the POW/MIA flag is properly displayed at the official entrance of every elected lawmaker’s office immediately.
Rolling Thunder, Inc. organizes a motorcycle ride every year to honor those who were held prisoner and missing from the Vietnam War. This year’s ride will reportedly be the organization’s last.
The groups warned that hundreds of thousands of motorcycle ride participants will converge on the Capitol on May 29.
“If our riders decide to visit the congressional office buildings, you better believe they will expect to see that flag outside every representative’s and senator’s office,” Muller said. “We will not forget, and we’re not going to allow them to forget.”
Rolling Thunder, Inc. National President Joe Bean said in the joint statement, “Until we as a nation can account for every American who went missing or was captured while serving the United States, we cannot allow the general public to forget.”
“We owe it to them to keep looking and remember that so many still aren’t home,” he said.
Joe Chenelly, AMVETS national executive director, said they were giving lawmakers the benefit of the doubt that maybe they did not realize how meaningful and purposeful the flag is.
“We are giving these lawmakers the benefit of the doubt, that maybe they didn’t realize how meaningful and purposeful it is to display that flag. Now they will know, and we will be back on Capitol Hill soon.”