JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A bill to establish a national prisoner of war and missing in action memorial and museum in Jacksonville was just reintroduced by U.S. Reps. John Rutherford (R-Jacksonville) and Al Lawson (D-Tallahassee) reintroduced a bill that would designate a POW/MIA memorial and museum at Cecil Field to honor all former prisoners of war and those still considered missing in action.
“Every day, I fly the POW/MIA flag outside of my congressional office,” Rutherford said. “It serves as a reminder of the 82,000 U.S. service members who are former prisoners of war or still missing in action. These heroes deserve a national memorial designated in their honor, and this bill establishes that memorial right here in Northeast Florida. Thank you to my colleague Rep. Lawson for joining me in leading this important effort.”
Back in 2017, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry signed a bill that created a permanent memorial for POW’s and MIA’s at Cecil Commerce Center. Two years later, congressmen Rutherford and Lawson first introduced legislation to designate the site as a national memorial and museum.
According to the Department of Defense, there are approximately 82,000 former prisoners of war and unaccounted for U.S. servicemembers.
“Our service members and veterans have always been the pride of our nation, and we admire them for their sacrifice and dedication,” Rep. Lawson said. “It is important to honor the brave Americans who have been prisoners of war and those who remain missing in action by creating a national museum and memorial in their tribute. It my privilege to introduce this legislation with Rep. Rutherford, as we work to bring this long-overdue designation to our community.”
The bill that was first introduced by the two Florida congressmen would designate the existing POW/MIA Memorial and Museum at Cecil Field as a national memorial and museum. It is located on 26 acres at the former NAS Cecil Field Master Jet Base – now known as Cecil Commerce Center.
Jacksonville’s Mary Hoff, wife of MIA pilot LCDR Michael G. Hoff and an Orange Park native was a major driving force behind establishing the memorial. She was also instrumental in developing the POW/MIA flag, the only other flag authorized to fly over the White House and on the same pole as the American flag.
Friday’s reintroduction of the bill falls on National POW/MIA Recognition Day which was established in 1979 through a proclamation signed by President Jimmy Carter.
According to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, since the initial proclamation, each subsequent president has issued an annual proclamation commemorating the third Friday in September as National POW/MIA Recognition Day.