WASHINGTON, DC – Yesterday, the United States Senate unanimously passed H.R. 1670, the National POW/MIA Remembrance Act of 2015, legislation introduced by Congressman Stephen F. Lynch (D-Boston). United States Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) introduced the bipartisan Senate companion bill. The legislation honors American service members who are Prisoners of War (POW) or Missing in Action (MIA) by placing a commemorative chair on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol.
Commemorative chairs, which carry the POW and MIA insignia, have been placed in cities and towns around the country, in spaces ranging from city halls to professional sports stadiums. These seats remain perpetually unoccupied as a solemn reminder of the over 83,000 brave service members still waiting to be brought home. The National POW/MIA Remembrance Act of 2015 directs the Architect of the Capitol to place a commemorative chair bearing the logo of the National League of POW/MIA Families in a prominent location in the U.S. Capitol.
“I am very pleased that the Senate passed H.R. 1670, the National POW/MIA Remembrance Act of 2015 and I give great credit to Senators Warren and Markey for their hard work to gain passage in the Senate. The U.S Capitol serves as a symbol of our nation’s history and enduring spirit, so it is appropriate to recognize those who remain unaccounted for under its dome,” said Congressman Lynch. “Our bill pays respect to the brave men and women who are Missing in Action or Prisoners of War who serve our nation with valor and honor. This commemorative chair will stand as a daily reminder to our POW/MIA and their families that we will never forget them.”
“My three older brothers served in the military, and I appreciate the sacrifices our servicemembers and their families make each day to keep our country safe. It’s our duty to honor those who have served our nation with courage, including those who have not made it home,” said Senator Warren. “This commemorative chair will serve as a lasting reminder to honor America’s missing servicemembers and prisoners of war, and I thank the Massachusetts Chapter of Rolling Thunder and Rolling Thunder National for their hard work to get this bill passed.”
“We must do all that we can to ensure that our nation's POW-MIAs are never forgotten. This commemorative chair will remind Americans visiting the nation's capital of the incredible sacrifice made by those brave Americans whose fate is still unknown and the strength of the families that are left behind,” said Senator Markey. “I thank President Joe D'Entremont and the members of the Massachusetts Chapter of Rolling Thunder for their tireless work to ensure that our service members receive the recognition they earned through their noble and courageous service to our nation.”
Joe D’Entremont of Jamaica Plain, the former President of Rolling Thunder Massachusetts Chapter 1, first brought this initiative to the attention of Congressman Lynch and Senator Warren in 2014. D’Entremont and Gus Dante, both members of Rolling Thunder, Inc. National, have worked hard to promote government accountability for American POW and MIA and their families. They have also been national leaders in advocating for POW/MIA chairs in venues across the country.
The National POW/MIA Remembrance Act of 2015 is supported by veteran’s advocacy groups including the National League of POW/MIA Families, the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), the American Legion, the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), the Vietnam Veterans of America, and Rolling Thunder.
H.R. 1670 passed the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously on March 21, 2016. With final approval of the bill by both chambers, the bill will next go to the President for his signature to become law.