WASHINGTON, D.C. – Introduced ahead of Memorial Day, the You Are Not Forgotten Act, H.R. 3025, represents a bipartisan effort by AMVETS and its partners in Congress to help ensure lawmakers remember the more than 82,000 service members our nation sent to war, but has yet to bring home.
The bill was drafted in response to the disappearance of POW/MIA flags from the entryways of congressional offices. It has long been customary for each member of Congress to display three flags outside the doorways of their Capitol Hill offices, including the American flag, their state's flag and the POW/MIA flag. In the new session of Congress, however, only about half of offices in the House of Representatives continue to display the POW/MIA flag. Some members chose to replace it with other flags that have become symbols for social movements, even though they have option to add a fourth flag holder.
If passed into law, the You Are Not Forgotten Act would preserve the POW/MIA flag's rightful place alongside the American flag at the entryway to each representative's Capitol Hill office, where it will continue to serve as a solemn reminder of the sacrifices that make our nation, and each one of its many flags, possible. This remembrance takes on added importance in the halls of Congress. As lawmakers weigh decisions that could send more of our troops into harm's weigh, AMVETS believes it's crucial the flag be displayed to remind them of our nation's prisoners of war and missing in action.
"Displaying the POW/MIA flag in the halls of Congress is a powerful way to ensure every one of our members of Congress keeps in mind there are still missing and possibly imprisoned service members," AMVETS National Executive Director Joe Chenelly said. "We are grateful that Representatives Meadows and Lee have introduced this legislation and are optimistic that it will be passed into law."
Rep. Mark Meadows, R-North Carolina, worked with AMVETS to draft and introduce the bill.
“Every year on Memorial Day, Americans take time to honor and remember the sacrifices of our men and women in the military—especially those who paid the ultimate price to preserve our freedom. An integral part of that remembrance involves renewing our commitment to account for our POW/MIAs as fully as possible," Meadows said. "My hope is that the bill we’re introducing today will remind families of those unaccounted for that our country remains indebted to them for their service. We will continue sustaining our efforts to account for them.”
The bill's lead cosponsor, Rep. Susie Lee, D-Nevada, stressed its importance to the memory of those we have yet to bring home.
“On Memorial Day weekend, we take time to remember the men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. Sadly, many brave men and women in uniform have gone missing in action and were never able to return home to their loved ones," Lee said. "The You Are Not Forgotten Act is a reminder of the debt of gratitude we owe those fallen soldiers for laying their lives on the line for our country, and a signal to the loved ones of those soldiers that we remember them every day.”Earlier this month, a different bill, The National POW/MIA Flag Act, S. 693, passed the Senate. AMVETS endorsed the bill, because it would require the POW/MIA flag be flown every time the U.S. flag is raised at certain government buildings, including the White House. Current law, requires the POW/MIA flag be flown at those buildings on six holidays: Memorial Day, Armed Forces Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, National POW/MIA Recognition Day and Veterans Day. The Senate bill, however, did not address congressional offices.