January 25, 2021

Senators Hassan, Cotton, Warren Call on Biden Administration to Return POW/MIA Flag to Atop White House

WASHINGTON – In case you missed it, U.S. Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Tom Cotton (R-AR), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) are calling on President Joe Biden to return the POW/MIA flag to its place atop the White House, with the American flag, which is required by the Senators’ National POW/MIA Flag Act that became law in November 2019.

 

See below for coverage highlights:

 

Reuters: Senators urge Biden to restore POW-MIA flag atop White House after Trump removal

By Alexandra Alper

 

Three U.S. senators urged President Joe Biden on Friday to restore a flag honoring missing war veterans atop the White House after former President Donald Trump angered some veterans by moving it last year to a less prominent location.

 

The POW-MIA flag, dedicated to prisoners of war and service members missing in action, was relocated in 2020 from a prominent position atop the White House to a spot on the South Lawn. That move came months after Trump signed a law requiring the flag to be flown every day at certain federal properties including the White House.

 

“We ask that you take swift action to restore the flag to its place of honor atop the White House, thereby prominently recognizing the service and sacrifices of American prisoners of war, missing service members, and their families,” Democratic Senators Maggie Hassan and Elizabeth Warren and Republican Senator Tom Cotton write in a letter released on Friday, which was first reported by Reuters.

 

“This issue is critically important to veterans and other Americans who care deeply about the POW/MIA flag as a sign that we will never forget about the thousands of American service members who are still far from home against their will,” said the senators, who co-sponsored the measure signed by Trump.

 

[…] U.S. law requires the flag to be displayed in certain places in a “manner designed to ensure visibility to the public.” In its current position, the flag can be viewed from limited vantage points outside the White House complex. Trump’s White House declined to explain why the flag was relocated but said last year it was done in a private ceremony with full military honors.

 

Hassan and Warren previously described that move as disrespectful and potentially illegal, while some veterans groups criticized it. The American Ex-Prisoners of War, one of those groups, described the move as a “slap in the face.”

 

Organizations representing veterans and missing service members welcomed the letter sent by the senators.

 

“The National League of POW/MIA Families deeply appreciates the bipartisan support that Senators Hassan, Warren and Cotton have again demonstrated by asking President Biden to restore our POW/MIA flag to its intended place atop the White House,” Ann Mills-Griffith, who heads the National League of POW/MIA Families, said in a statement.

 

Union Leader: Hassan to Biden: Return the POW/MIA flag to White House

By Shawne K. Wickham

 

Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-NH, and two Senate colleagues are calling on President Joe Biden to return the POW/MIA flag to “its rightful place” atop the White House.

 

A 2019 law requires the flag, which honors American service members held prisoner or missing in action, be flown in designated locations, including the U.S. Capitol, the White House and national cemeteries.

 

During a Memorial Day event last year, the black flag was moved from atop the White House and placed in a new memorial garden on the White House grounds. The change was not announced, but the White House posted a 21-second YouTube video on June 18, showing uniformed service members raising the American and POW/MIA flags on a flagpole in a tree-lined grove under the heading: “Under President Trump, the POW/MIA flag flies 24/7 at the White House.”

 

The move prompted outrage from some veterans groups, including the Northeast POW/MIA Network, which has held a weekly vigil in Meredith’s Hesky Park for 34 years to honor and remember those held captive or missing in foreign wars. The group also sponsors an annual POW/MIA “freedom ride” to the lakeside park, where a memorial stone reads: “Let us not forget.”

 

Bob Jones, a Vietnam veteran who is president of that organization, expressed gratitude to Hassan for her efforts to restore the flag to the White House.

 

“This is simply the right thing to do,” he said.

 

Under the federal law, the POW/MIA flag is to fly on “all days on which the flag of the United States is displayed.” And it must be displayed “in a manner designed to ensure visibility to the public.”

 

Jones said he has never received an explanation for why the POW/MIA flag was moved last year. He said he hopes the new president reads the senators’ letter “and replaces the POW/MIA flag atop the White House where the American people can actually see it.”

 

Hassan was joined in her letter by Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-MA, and Tom Cotton, R-AR. All three were sponsors of the 2019 law.

 

Hassan had also signed onto a letter last September to then-President Donald Trump, urging him to restore the flag to the White House. Trump had signed the POW/MIA flag bill into law.

 

In their letter to Biden, the senators said this issue is critically important “to veterans and other Americans who care deeply about the POW/MIA flag as a sign that we will never forget about the thousands of American service members who are still far from home against their will.” They noted there are approximately 82,000 Americans listed as prisoners of war, missing in action or otherwise unaccounted for in past wars and conflicts.

 

The senators said they support the creation of the permanent memorial on the White House grounds but said that location is not prominently visible from outside those grounds.

 

“We ask that you take swift action to restore the flag to its place of honor atop the White House, thereby prominently recognizing the service and sacrifices of American prisoners of war, missing services members, and their families,” their letter concluded. […]

 

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