If the presidential election was not 51 days away, this would not be a story. But, we are and it is. The POW/MIA flag that has been flying over the White House was removed. It now flies in a POW/MIA memorial site on the South Lawn. Thanks to the latest Bob Woodward book, the Democrats have another reason for faux outrage towards the Commander-in-Chief.
It’s obviously election-year posturing if we are to believe some of the quotes from critics. Not a peep was uttered at the time that the change occurred from anyone. Now, some Democrat senators have written a letter demanding that the flag be returned.
To be clear, the POW/MIA flag only flew over the White House, along with the American flag, on six designated days – Armed Forces Day and Memorial Day in May, Flag Day, July 4, POW/MIA Recognition Day in September, and Veterans Day. This changed in 2019. In March 2019, the National POW/MIA Flag Act was introduced by Rep. Jack Bergman, a Michigan Republican and a retired Marine lieutenant general, and Rep. Chirs Pappas, a Democrat from New Hampshire. “Flying this flag at federal properties 365 days a year is just a small way that we can ensure their sacrifice and devotion to our nation is never forgotten,” Mr. Bergman said.
In November, the law was signed into effect by President Trump. The flag is to be flown every day, all year, over prominent federal buildings, including the White House, the U.S. Capitol, and all post offices and military installations. This action was praised at the time.
“This is a historic victory for every man and woman who courageously defended this nation and remain unaccounted for,” Veterans of Foreign Wars Commander William “Doc” Schmitz said in a release.
The display of the black POW flag, with its silhouette of a captured U.S. prisoner and the logo “You are not forgotten” would serve “as a daily reminder that these heroes and their families are forever etched in our DNA,” Mr. Schmitz said.
On the Senate side, Republicans Marco Rubio, Tom Cotton, and John Thune co-sponsored the bill with Democrats Jack Reed, Elizabeth Warren, and Margaret Hassan. Apparently, the three Democrats have now realized the POW/MIA flag was moved and they wrote a letter to the White House asking that the move be reconsidered. Thanks to the Bob Woodward book that includes unverified quotes from Trump about some members of the military, the Democrats are trying to score political points.
“It’s bad enough that President Trump publicly ridicules American heroes like Senator McCain and others who were captured on the battlefield. He inexplicably promotes the Confederate flag but fails to fly the POW/MIA flag,” said Democratic Senator Jack Reed, a co-sponsor of the bill. “It’s part of a pattern of disrespect by President Trump toward those who honorably served our nation.”
“This decision to abruptly move the POW/MIA Flag from atop the White House to an area that is apparently not visible to the public may violate federal law and does not appropriately honor the service and sacrifices of American prisoners of war, missing servicemembers, and their families,” the letter reads.
Hassan said that law was intended to pay tribute to the prisoners of war and those missing in action and called on the White House to reverse its decision.
Why was the move made in the first place? President Trump dedicated a spot on the South Lawn at the White House for a POW/MIA memorial and the flag was moved there.
“President Trump dedicated a POW/MIA memorial site earlier this year on the White House grounds to forever remember our heroic service members who were prisoners of war or missing in action,” White House spokesman Judd Deere said. “The President selected a site on the Southwest corner of the South Lawn for this prominent and sacred memorial, which is visible to all those who visit the White House, that features the POW/MIA flag,” he added.
That makes sense, right? In fact, it sounds very respectful. The general public can still see the flag at the White House but it isn’t flying over the White House, which seems to be the rub. Critics say it is disrespectful and it is unlawful, according to the legislation, to not fly it over the White House.
U.S. law requires the flag to be displayed in a “manner designed to ensure visibility to the public.” In its current position, it can be viewed from limited vantage points outside the White House complex.
The American Ex-Prisoners of War group, which represents 10,000 former POWs and their families, said it was outraged last month when it learned of the move, calling it a “slap in the face.”
“While he touts his support for the U.S. Armed Forces and their families, actions speak louder than words. And this action speaks of disdain for Prisoners of War and the Missing in Action,” the group said.
Trump touted the new law to representatives of Rolling Thunder, a veterans advocacy group, during Memorial Day weekend. Now the group is not pleased, with its founder and executive director saying though he doesn’t think the move is illegal or meant to be disrespectful, the flag is supposed to fly over the White House and hopes it will be relocated back there.
The chairman and chief executive officer of the National League of POW/MIA Families said that “working-level White House staff members” have been made aware of their desire that the flag be flown over the White House. One group not criticizing the move is the American legion. It is pleased that the flag “flies 24/7 at its own POW/MIA Memorial on White House grounds.” I fall more along the lines of the American legion on this one. I think a designated memorial with its own spot on the White House grounds, which can be seen by the public, is a grand gesture of respect.
Woodward’s book gives Democrats and other Trump opponents an excuse to trash Trump’s alleged behavior to the military. These Senate Democrats are taking advantage of the election being so close. Too bad for them that the Woodward book’s accusations aren’t moving the needle in polling of the members of the military, though.