National Former POW Recognition Day
Reported By SSG K.Grigorov
Credits for Image: Soviet Photo Agency/Bettmann/Getty Images
On the past April 9th we remember all those brave men and women who have served as POW around the world.
Being a prisoner of war is not a new concept, and throughout history, many individuals have been held captive during times of conflict. However, it was not until the 20th century that the treatment of prisoners of war became regulated by international law. The Geneva Convention, signed in 1929, established guidelines for the treatment of prisoners of war, which were later expanded upon in 1949.
During World War II, an estimated 130,000 American service members were taken prisoner by the Axis powers. These prisoners were subjected to harsh conditions, including forced labor, lack of medical care, and torture. The experiences of these prisoners varied greatly, but all endured immense suffering during their captivity.
One of the most famous examples of American prisoners of war during World War II is the Bataan Death March. In April 1942, approximately 76,000 American and Filipino soldiers were forced to march over 60 miles in the sweltering heat with little food or water. Many died during the march, and those who survived were held in brutal conditions in POW camps.
The Korean War also saw many American service members taken prisoner, with an estimated 7,140 Americans held captive. These prisoners endured brutal treatment, including physical and psychological torture, and many were subjected to medical experiments.
The Vietnam War saw some of the most well-known and controversial instances of American prisoners of war. Over 2,500 Americans were taken prisoner during the conflict, and many were held for years in brutal conditions. The treatment of these prisoners became a contentious issue in the United States, with many families and activists pushing for their release.
Today, the United States military continues to work to prevent and respond to instances of American service members being taken captive. However, the experiences of those who have been held as prisoners of war continue to shape our understanding of the sacrifices made by our military members.
On National Former POW Recognition Day, we honor and remember those who have endured the unimaginable. We must never forget their sacrifices and continues work that goes towards preventing the mistreatment of prisoners of war.