Of all the things drilled into you in the military, “leave no man or woman behind” might be the most uncompromising ethos of them all. The military would fail its mission if troops didn’t operate under complete faith and trust, in life and in death.
National POW/MIA Recognition Day was established in order for us to recognize when those fought were never found, or were captured by the enemy in a time of war. According to the Defense Department, 83,417 troops are still unaccounted for, stretching from WWII to Iraq and Afghanistan. Those missing troops don’t just have a profound impact on their units, but their families as well. That’s a lot of families that may never see closure.
The other half of our reflection is reserved for troops captured by the enemy in battle—or in James O’Neal Hughes’ case, by revolutionaries during the Iran hostage crisis. Their incredible sacrifice is almost impossible to conceive, and our gratitude can never be enough.
This is also a day to recognize the hard work by the folks at the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, whose mission is to search for, identify, and bring home remains of our men and women overseas from sites all over the world.
Take a moment to reflect on those who have suffered in the hands of the enemy, and those who never came home.