Since World War I more than 200,000 Americans have been listed as being Prisoners of War or Missing in Action. Specifically during the Vietnam War, more than 2,500 Americans were captured and listed as Missing in Action, MIA. An organization called the National League of Families was formed short after the end of the Vietnam War. Composed of spouses, children, parents, and other family members of the MIA soldiers it's goal was to remind the nation of thier loved ones plight. In 1971 Mrs. Michael Hoff, the wife of a MIA soldier and member of the National League of Families, felt that there should be a symbol to remind the nation of these soldiers and the cause to bring them home. Around this time the People's Republic of China had been admitted to the United Nations and a flag manufacturer called Annin Company had produced a flag for them. Mrs. Hoff read about this in the Florida-Times Union and felt a flag would be perfect. She contacted the companies Vice President, Norman Rivkee. Mr. Rivkee was very receptive to this idea and quickly turned to one of thier advertising agencies to create a design. At this agency worked Newt Heisley, a military pilot in World War II. Mr. Heisley took on the project being he was a veteran himself and his oldest son Jeffery, had trained for combat in the Vietnam War. Jeffery had become very ill while training for combat and when he returned home a once strong man was now guant and lifeless. This image brought to mind what life must have been like for those soldiers captured and encased on foriegn soil. He began to sketch his son's gaunt profile using a black background and a white silhouette. As he sketched he added a barb wire and a tower in the distance still in the black and white color scheme. Under this image the words "You Are Not Forgotten" were boldly added. This design was one of many, but was instantly chosen. The flags went into production so quickly that the sketch was never refined and his initial drawing is the POW/MIA flag we see today.
The POW/MIA design was never copyrighted and has been legally ruled as "public domain." This flag is the only flag, other than the American Flag, that has ever flown over the White House. The POW/MIA flag has flown there on every POW/MIA Recognition Day, the third Friday of every September, since 1982. It also flies over the nation's Capital on Veteran's Day, Memorial Day, Armed Forces Day, Flag Day, and Independence Day. The flag is flown daily in the United States Capital Rotunda and all VA MEdical facilities are to display the flag on any day that National colors are displayed. The original creation of the POW/MIA flag was for those soldiers missing from the Vietnam War, but over time has come to represent missing men and women from any war.