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Steve Bates

Unfurling the POW-MIA flag

Friday, September 20th is POW – MIA Recognition Day. This special day and the POW-MIA flag are symbolic of our nations resolve to never leave our warriors behind. Our armed forces will look for the missing until they are accounted for.

Sunday, September 29th is Gold Star Mother’s Day. A Gold Star Mother is one who lost a son or daughter while serving their nation in times of war or conflict. These two special days have a great deal in common. On September 20th and September 29th, we should all stop and ponder the losses of our American families through the years. After all, these losses and sacrifices were made to protect our nation. Over the years, about 1 million brave warriors lost their American Dream so that we could live ours.

On these two special days we should remember that:

  • There were over 130,000 American Military Personnel who were Prisoners of War in the 20th and 21st century wars; 184 from Oregon.
  • About 7,500 warriors are missing from World War I; 19 from Oregon.
  • 72,676 warriors are missing from World War II; 886 from Oregon.
  • 7,634 warriors are missing from the Korean War; 56 from Oregon.
  • As of July 26, 2019, there are 1,587 still missing in Southeast Asia; 33 from Oregon.

The eternal search for unaccounted for servicemen and women

Let us all keep these sacrifices at the forefront. That is the purpose of the POW-MIA Flag. That is the reason there are monuments and memorials. The adage “Let us not forget” is appropriate.

We should support and applaud those who are working towards the goal to help us not to forget. Yes, more monuments and memorials should be built to ensure that we do not forget. There is a shortage of memorials that specifically honor our Vietnam Veterans.

In our capitol city of Salem, on state properties, one can find memorials and monuments that honor the veterans of every war except the Vietnam War and the Persian Gulf War of 1991. There are a few Vietnam War Memorials around our great state. Some of the Vietnam memorials are located in Portland, Canby, Newport and a new memorial is under construction in Medford. Many communities have war memorials and parks that honor veterans from all wars.

The community of Boring, Oregon dedicated a Vietnam War Memorial at its Boring Station Trailhead Park on September 21, 2018 which was POW-MIA Recognition Day. A portion of the dedication ceremony included the raising of the POW-MIA Flag for the first time over Boring.

The dedication ceremony also included a tribute to our Gold Star Mothers and Gold Star Families as the community honored 41 Clackamas County warriors who gave the ultimate sacrifice in South Vietnam.

There is a group of Oregon residents proposing a Vietnam War Memorial on the Oregon State Capitol Grounds. This proposed memorial will honor all who served during the Vietnam War Era, regardless of their duty station. Special reverence for those who served in Vietnam and those Oregonians that perished in Vietnam will be included. Also, this memorial is planned to have tributes to all Gold Star Families, Oregon’s Prisoners Of War and those Missing In Action.

During the latter days of September, perhaps you can take some time and review the proposed Vietnam War Memorial on the Oregon State Capitol Grounds.


The motto for this project is: “Let us honor our warriors and remember the fallen.”

Those of us who never wore a military uniform should give special consideration to POW-MIA Recognition Day and Gold Star Mother’s Day with a resolve to honor all who served and sacrificed. All gave some and some gave all. We must also remember their families. These sacrifices were made so that we can live as a free people. Let us never forget.

Note: The proposed Vietnam War Memorial on the Oregon State Capitol Grounds includes tributes to Oregon’s POW’s, MIA’s and Gold Star Families.

Contributions can be made by credit card on the website, or checks can be sent to Vietnam War Memorial Fund – P O Box 1448 – Boring, Oregon  97009.

About the author:

Steve Bates is a Life Member of the Associates of Vietnam Veterans of America. He serves as Chair of the Committee on Memorials and Remembrance and President of the Vietnam War Memorial Fund.



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