Friday, September 18 is National POW/MIA Recognition Day. The Virginia War Memorial will honor and remember all American service members who were held as a Prisoner of War (POW) or were reported as Missing in Action (MIA) with a series of special exhibits and programs from September 15-18, 2020.
A Missing Man Table will be on display in the Robins Lobby of the Memorial’s C. Kenneth Wright Pavilion. This table is set with a single place setting to remember those who are absent and cannot attend a meal because of their POW or MIA status. The setting uses official Commonwealth of Virginia china, which was presented as gift for this purpose from Virginia’s Executive Mansion.
The Memorial is updating its Virginians Missing in Action exhibit to reflect those service members whose remains have been identified and returned in recent years. The updated exhibit will debut September 15.
The Memorial will present two livestream presentations in recognition of POWs and MIAs. These are:
- Tuesday, September 15, 10:30 a.m. – From the Archives: a Look at POW Materials. Virginia War Memorial Archivist Heidi Sheldon will explore items from the Memorial’s collection related to Prisoners of War; and
- Friday, September 18, 1:00 p.m. – Never Forgotten: The Mission to Bring our MIAs Home. A discussion between Virginia War Memorial Director and military historian Dr. Clay Mountcastle and Colonel Bob Gahagan, (USA, Ret.), former leader of the Joint Task Forces – Full Accounting (JTF-FA) about America’s continuing efforts to search for and recover missing American service members.
September 18th is also the 73rd Birthday of the United States Air Force, which the Memorial will recognize with a special livestream event:
- Friday, September 18, 10:30 a.m. – Salute to Service: United States Air Force. September 18 is the 73rd birthday of the USAF. Virginia War Memorial Education Director Jim Triesler and John Newby, U.S. Air Force Academy graduate, Iraq War veteran, former Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Veterans Services, and current CEO of Virginia Bio, will discuss what is was like to serve on active duty in the USAF.
Those wishing to view these livestream events should pre-register at https://vawarmemorial.org/learn/livestreams/. Attendance is free.
There were nearly 124,000 Americans held as POWs during World War II, more than 7,100 during the Korean War, over 750 during the Vietnam War, and 23 during the Gulf War.
Still listed as MIA are 72,579 Americans from World War II, 7,578 from the Korean War, 1,586 from the Vietnam War, 126 from the Cold War, 1 from Operation El Dorado Canyon (Libya, 1986), and 5 from the Gulf War(s).
The Memorial’s Paul and Phyllis Galanti Education Center is named in honor of Commander Paul Galanti (USN, Ret.) and his late wife, Phyllis. Commander Galanti was held as POW of the North Vietnamese at the infamous “Hanoi Hilton” for almost seven years. Mrs. Galanti worked tirelessly during his imprisonment for the humane treatment and ultimate release of her husband and his fellow POWs.
The Virginia War Memorial is located at 621 South Belvidere Street in Richmond. It is open to the public Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. and Sunday, 12 noon – 4 p.m. Admission and parking is free. Due to current COVID-19 restrictions, facemasks and social distancing is required, and the number of visitors permitted inside the Memorial at any one time may be limited. For more information, please visit www.vawarmemorial.org or call 804.786.2060