The History of
The Vietnam War POW/MIA Flag
In 1971, Mrs.Mary Hoff, an MIA wife and member of the National League of American Prisoners
and Missing in Southeast Asia, recognized the need for a symbol of our POW/MIAs. Prompted by
an article in the Jacksonville, Florida TIMES-UNION, Mrs. Hoff contacted Norman Rivkees,
Vice-President of Annin & Company which had made a banner for the newest member of the United
Nations, the People's Republic of China, as a part of their policy to provide flags to all UN
member nations. Mrs. Hoff found Mr. Rivkees very sympathetic to the POW/MIA issue, and he,
along with Annin's advertising agency, designed a flag to represent our missing men. Following
League approval, the flags were manufactured for distribution.
The flag is black, bearing in the center, in black and white, the emblem of the League. The
emblem is a white disk bearing in black silhouette the bust of a man, watch tower with a
guard holding a rifle, and a strand of barbed wire; above the disk are the white letters POW
and MIA framing a white 5-pointed star; below the disk is a black and white wreath above the
white motto YOU ARE NOT FORGOTTEN.
Concerned groups and individuals have altered the original POW/MIA Flag many times; the
colors have been switched from black with white - to red, white and blue, -to white with
black; the POW/MIA has at times been revised to MIA/POW. Such changes, however, are
insignificant. The importance lies in the continued visibility of the symbol, a constant
reminder of the plight of America's POW/MIA'S.
On March 9,1989, a POW/MIA Flag, which flew over the White House on the 1988 National
POW/MIA Recognition Day, was installed in the United States Capitol Rotunda as a result of
legislation passed overwhelmingly during the 100th session of Congress. The leadership of both
Houses hosted the installation ceremony in a demonstration of bipartisan congressional
support. This POW/MIA Flag, the only flag displayed in the United States Capitol Rotunda,
stands as a powerful symbol of our national commitment to our POW/MIAs until the fullest
possible accounting for Americans still missing in Southeast Asia has been achieved.