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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release September 18, 1996




Since our country's birth, Americans have responded to military threats against liberty and democracy, whether at home or in remote areas of the world. The young men and women of our Armed Forces understand the need to resist oppression, and they have willingly put themselves in harm's way around the globe to do so. Those young Americans who stand in the defense of freedom are our country's most precious natural resource.

It is particularly painful when these brave Americans are made Prisoners of War, or are classified as Missing in Action. They have earned our deep appreciation and respect for the great sacrifices they have made so that all of us can continue to enjoy the privileges of liberty. In keeping faith with them, we continue our concerted efforts to determine the fate of all those who are unaccounted for and to bring home the remains of those who have perished.

The grief for our prisoners of war and those missing in action is most intense among their families and loved ones at home, who wait -- often for years, and sometimes in vain -- for confirmation of their fate. These families display their own courage by their endurance in the face of deep anxiety. Their cause is our cause, and we pledge ourselves to them anew on this special day.

On September 20, 1996, the flag of the National League of Families of American Prisoners of War and Missing in Southeast Asia, a black-and-white banner symbolizing all of America's missing, will be flown over the White House, the United States Capitol, the United States Departments of State, Defense, and Veterans Affairs, the Selective Service System headquarters, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Korean War Veterans Memorial, and national cemeteries across the country.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, WILLIAM J. CLINTON, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim September 20, 1996, as National POW/MIA Recognition Day. I ask all Americans to join me in honoring former American POWs and those Americans still unaccounted for as a result of their service to our great Nation. I also encourage the American people to express their gratitude to the families of these missing Americans for their perseverance through the many years of waiting. Finally, I urge Federal, State, and local officials and private organizations to observe this day with appropriate ceremonies, programs, and activities.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this eighteenth day of September, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety-six, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and twenty-first.


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