Did you know that more than 40 million Americans have served in the Armed Forces since our nation’s founding?
Our American story is a tapestry woven with countless patriots who, with their intrepid spirit, meritorious service and admirable bravery, have gone beyond the call of duty. And their heroism is as old as war itself.
From Yorktown to Gettysburg, San Juan Hill to Saipan, and Leyte Gulf to Tora Bora, America’s sons and daughters have heroically answered the call to protect our precious freedoms and defend the cause of liberty at home and abroad.
Each one had a duty to serve. But it’s our duty to remember.
So, on Friday, Sept. 15 – National POW/MIA Recognition Day – we remember more than 500,000 Prisoners of War who endured the horrors of enemy captivity and faithfully served through severe suffering and incomprehensible trauma. We remember the tens of thousands of our brave patriots still missing in action and have yet to return home safely to the warm embrace of their families and loved ones.
This week, thousands of ceremonies will take place nationwide to express solidarity. Balloons will be released. Moments of silence will be held. Hundreds of thousands of Americans will gather to honor the lives and deeds of our greatest heroes in churchyards, national cemeteries, and town squares. And a black and white flag created by Orange Park’s Mary Helen Hoff will fly proudly.
All of this is good and fitting, but our patriots deserve a special place of honor because of their selfless dedication, unmatched valor and unsurpassed devotion to our nation’s values.
That is why I introduced legislation that will designate the POW/MIA Memorial and Museum at Cecil Field in my congressional district as a national landmark to honor, connect, inspire, and educate the American people about our prisoners of war and those missing in action.
This memorial will give Americans a unique opportunity to honor the immense sacrifice made by our POWs and serve as a powerful reminder of the service members whose fates are still unknown.
We will never be able to repay our debt to those who have given their last measure of devotion to the spirit of America.
But we can continue to do our duty: to remember.
So, on POW/MIA Recognition Day, we the people of the United States, with a grateful heart, salute those who endured great dangers in the hands of the enemy and those lost in service to our nation.
U.S. Rep. Aaron Bean represents the Fourth District of Florida, which includes Clay County, in Washington, D.C.