JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – U.S. Reps. John Rutherford, R-Jacksonville, and Al Lawson, D-Tallahassee, chose National POW/MIA Recognition Day to introduce legislation that would designate a POW/MIA Memorial and Museum envisioned for Cecil Field as the National POW/MIA Memorial and Museum to honor all former prisoners of war and those still missing in action.
According to the Department of Defense, there are approximately 82,000 former prisoners of war and U.S. service members who are missing in action. This bill would designate the existing POW/MIA Memorial and Museum at Cecil Field as the national memorial and museum.
Jacksonville's Mary Hoff, wife of MIA pilot Lt. Cmdr. Michael G. Hoff and an Orange Park native, was a major driving force behind establishing the memorial on 26 acres at the former NAS Cecil Field Master Jet Base – which is now known as Cecil Commerce Center.
Hoff was also instrumental in developing the universal symbol known as the POW/MIA flag. Besides the American flag, this is the only other flag authorized to fly over the White House and the only other flag that can fly on the same pole as the American flag.
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"More than 82,000 Americans currently remain missing from WWII, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and other conflicts," Rutherford said in a release. "Sadly, the loved ones of prisoners of war or those missing in action have no national memorial to visit in remembrance of the immense sacrifice of these men and women. I am proud to introduce this bill with my friend Rep. Lawson to designate the POW/MIA Memorial and Museum at Cecil Field as the national memorial. Having a location such as this is incredibly important to our POW/MIA families and a measure of thankfulness from a grateful nation."