By USO Staff

National POW/MIA Recognition Day is observed on the third Friday in September. 

While some instantly recognize the cause’s flag, many don’t know how to commemorate the occasion compared to the other military-connected days. As a quick refresher, here’s a breakdown of the three most-observed military holidays:

Veterans Day is observed with the understanding that all gave some. All veterans, no matter what their role or rank, put their lives on the line when they volunteered to wear the uniform.

Memorial Day is observed with the understanding that some gave all. We use the day to remember the service members who died in the line of duty and reflect on the human cost of war.

But National POW/MIA Recognition Day is a day to both honor the service and sacrifice of our missing and captive and also refocus America’s energy and attention to the promise it made to bring them home.

More than 80,000 Americans have yet to come home from past conflicts. Many of those families never received a folded flag. They never had a burial in the rain or launched a memorial in their loved one’s name.

When someone goes missing in action, the families often sit and linger in limbo. That’s why today was created: to remember the promise of bringing their loved ones home.

With that in mind, here are three reads about the day and issues surrounding it:

-This story was originally published on in 2015. It has been updated in 2019.