September 20, 2019

Rep. Al Lawson Introduces Legislation to Designate the POW/MIA Memorial and Museum in Jacksonville

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Rep. Al Lawson (FL-05) and Rep. John Rutherford (FL-04) introduced legislation to designate the POW/MIA Memorial and Museum at Cecil Field as the national memorial and museum to honor all former prisoners of war and those still missing-in-action.

“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,” Rep. Lawson said. “We must acknowledge and remember our nation’s missing heroes alongside the families who seek their return.”

According to the Department of Defense, there are approximately 142,000 former prisoners of war and roughly 82,000 service members still unaccounted for in the United States. 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. 

“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 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.

Jacksonville has one of the highest veteran populations in the nation. Rep. Lawson, whose father was a World War II veteran, has sponsored several pieces of legislation to assist veterans including, H.R. 186, the Veterans Jobs Opportunity Act, which will allow for a tax credit for veterans who open small businesses in underserved communities; H. Res. 213, a resolution to create National Women Veterans Recognition Week to honor women veterans; and H.R. 1599, the Veterans Armed for Success Act to provide job readiness for veterans and their spouses. Last Congress, Rep. Lawson hosted a public briefing on Capitol Hill with Rep. Rutherford to address the critical issue of mental health within the veteran community.