Glendale "Bugler" - POW-MIA Flag

Paris Peace Accords, January 27, 1973

This was the agreement thirty years ago to end the war and restore peace in Vietnam. The U.S. pledged to cease hostilities (ground, air, naval, and to deactivate mines in all waterways) with total withdrawal to be completed in 60 days. All parties committed to no further acts of force on the ground, in the air, and on the sea. This prohibition also included terrorism and reprisals. Both Vietnamese sides were permitted to replace arms and war materials destroyed, damaged, or worn out, under supervision of the Joint Military Commission. Also agreed to was the return of all captured military personnel and foreign civilians within a 60-day period. North and South Vietnam were to begin peaceful negotiations on establishing normal relations and reunification. And so it ended. At least the war. Not the memories, nor the pain, nor the losses.

POW-MIA Flag

In 1970, Mary Hoff, an MIA wife and member of the National League of American Prisoners and Missing in Southeast Asia recognized the need for a symbol for our POW-MIAs. She contacted Annin (Glendale's flag manufacturer) and found a supporter of the idea. Annin contacted a local advertising agency and contracted graphic designer Newt Heisley to design a flag to represent the group.

The job came just as Heisley's son, Jeffrey, was returning from Marine training at Quantico. Home after becoming ill during training, Jeffrey's gaunt appearance became the inspiration for the silhouette. Newt Heisley, himself a World War II veteran who flew missions in the Pacific, was glad he got the chance to design the symbol. "I used to fly within range of the Japanese and wondered how I would hold up if I ever got captured. When I did the design, I thought how easy it would be to forget those guys," he said.

"You are not forgotten"

The now familiar slogan, "You are not forgotten," was born of that sentiment. Heisley also remarked in an interview that the flag was not originally intended to be black and white. He figured that once the League selected the design from the several he submitted, a suitable color would be chosen - one less somber, more optimistic. Obviously, the black and white motif was the one preferred.

The image was never copyrighted and is now part of the public domain. Neither Heisley nor the League ever anticipated the flag's popularity would reach the level that it has today. Newt Heisley has been honored by Congress and by many veterans groups and patriotic organizations in the years since he first conceived the flag design.

On March 9, 1989, an official League flag was installed in the US Capitol Rotunda where it stands as a powerful symbol of national commitment to America's POW-MIAs. It is the only flag ever to be honored in this way. On August 10, 1990, Congress officially recognized the League's POW-MIA flag. In 1998 it was required that the POW-MIA flag be flown from military installations, national cemeteries, V.A. medical centers and many other federal buildings.

Popular symbol

The symbol has been altered many times. The colors have switched from black with white . to white with black . to gold with black . to red, white and blue. The importance lies not with the color changes but in the continued visibility of the symbol, a constant reminder of the plight of America's POW-MIAs. It remains one of the most popular organizational flags flown in the United States.

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Webmaster Note: Glendale put out a great internet newsletter, The Bugler. It provided interesting tips, historical information and veterans stories. We have been granted permission to reprint them here. If you are interested in other items from them or wish to visit their site, they can be found at www.paradestore.com.