POW-MIA flag is lofted over government buildings
by JC REINDL BLADE /STAFF WRITER
Editor’s note: The only government office in the area refusing to comply with flag policy houses the offices of Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D) Ohio. Building suprvisor told VT: “POW flag a ‘safety hazard'”
The flag honoring U.S. soldiers who are prisoners of war or missing in action is no longer missing from view in downtown Toledo.
Black-and-white POW-MIA flags have appeared in recent weeks on flagpoles at Civic Center Mall and outside Government Center and the Toledo Police Department.
The flags, which depict the silhouette of a bowed prisoner of war against the background of a watchtower, bear the motto “You Are Not Forgotten” and are often flown beneath Old Glory.
The flags began multiplying this year through the persistent efforts of Nick Haupricht, 61, a local Vietnam veteran and activist on veterans matters. Mr. Haupricht dropped off flags at various government offices and media outlets and urged officials there to fly them.
One of his first stops was Government Center. Property Manager Mike Sullivan said he accepted the flag but ultimately chose to hoist a larger version up one of the poles by the building’s front entrance.
“The flag was too small, so we bought another one,” said Mr. Sullivan, who couldn’t recall the exact price paid. “But we got a pretty good deal on it because of where we buy them from — the guy is a veteran,” he added.
“This should have been up here 25 years ago,” he said.
The POW-MIA flag was created in 1971 by the National League of Families of American Prisoners and Missing in Southeast Asia.
It must be displayed full time at certain Washington war memorials and on designated flag days at some federal offices, including post offices.
A 1991 Ohio law “encourages” flying the POW-MIA flag on city halls, seats of county government, and the Statehouse in Columbus.
Mr. Haupricht says it is important to remember prisoners of war and the missing.
Larry Greer, spokesman for the Department of Defense’s Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel office, said 87,829 U.S. soldiers from World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and the Cold War are still missing in action.
The Pentagon has classified two soldiers as currently missing/captured from service in Iraq and Afghanistan: Staff Sgt. Ahmed AlTaie, 45, an Army linguist from Ann Arbor and Army Spc. Bowe Bergdahl, 24, of Idaho.
Mr. Haupricht said most government buildings that he visited downtown agreed to fly the POW-MIA flag full time.
None of the Toledo media outlets did until Monday. Joseph H. Zerbey IV, president and general manager of The Blade, said the newspaper will display the POW-MIA flag at its downtown building after its U.S. flag is repaired from recent weather damage.