The two congressmen who represent Jacksonville–Democrat U.S. Rep. Al Lawson and Republican U.S. Rep. John Rutherford–want to make the POW/MIA Memorial and Museum at Cecil Field into the “national memorial and museum to honor all former prisoners of war and those still missing-in-action.”
Lawson introduced the proposal at the end of last week with strong support from the Florida delegation. Besides Rutherford, other cosponsors include Democrat U.S. Reps. Kathy Castor and Darren Soto and Republican U.S. Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart, Neal Dunn, Ross Spano, Michael Waltz and Ted Yoho.
“While there are museums to honor veterans across the country, there is no national POW/MIA memorial or museum to specifically honor all former prisoners of war,” Lawson said at the end of last week. “We must acknowledge and remember our nation’s missing heroes alongside the families who seek their return.”
“More than 82,000 Americans currently remain missing from WWII, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and other conflicts,” said Rutherford. “Sadly, the loved ones of prisoners of war or those missing in action have no national memorial to visit in remembrance of the immense sacrifice of these men and women. I am proud to introduce this bill with my friend Rep. Lawson to designate the POW/MIA Memorial and Museum at Cecil Field as the national memorial. Having a location such as this is incredibly important to our POW/MIA families and a measure of thankfulness from a grateful nation.”
The two congressmen noted there have been more than140,000 former prisoners of war and around 82,000 service members still unaccounted for in American history.
“This memorial and museum will serve as a historic destination site for the nation. The goal would be to educate the general public through exhibits, special events, and activities, connect generations through educational programs and inspire young leaders,” Lawson’s office noted. “The bill would make the existing POW/MIA Memorial & Museum at Cecil Field, which is currently under construction, a national designation upon its completion. It is located on 26 acres in Northeast Florida at the former NAS Cecil Field Master Jet Base — now known as Cecil Commerce Center. Jacksonville’s Mary Hoff, wife of MIA pilot LCDR Michael G. Hoff, was a major driving force behind establishing the memorial. She was also instrumental in developing the POW/MIA flag, the only other flag authorized to fly over the White House and the only other flag that can fly on the same pole as the American flag.”
The bill was sent to the U.S. House Veterans Affairs Committee and the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee on Friday. So far, there is no counterpart over in the U.S. Senate.
Reach Kevin Derby at email@example.com.