REMEMBERING THE MIA ON MEMORIAL DAY
In times of warfare, often during retreat, individual American Indian warriors of many tribes would "stake" themselves to the ground with a lance or arrow by piercing a vein and then sticking the lance or arrow into a red "sash" of blood on the ground, so they could not move. They would remain "staked" to the ground and would fight until death or capture to give time for their comrades to escape.
The "sash" of blood was symbolic, for what really held them in place was the knowledge that extreme situations sometimes called for extraordinary individual sacrifice, and their convictions that the tribe's traditional way of life was important enough to give up their individual life or freedom in order to preserve it. Such sacrifice brought much honor to the individual, his family, and his tribe.
A few years ago while in Skiatook, Oklahoma, Kugee Supernaw, great-grandson of Tall Chief, the last hereditary chief of the Quapaw-Sioux told me this story when I purchased a replica eagle feather with the POW-MIA emblem painted on it. The quill of the feather is painted red to symbolize the "sash." Kugee said this feather represented the American Indian concept of honoring our nation's missing warriors.
As of January 2004, 1,842 Americans are still listed as Missing in Action by the Defense Department, over 90% of them in Vietnam or in areas of Laos and Cambodia where U.S. forces operated during the war. Each February, I especially remember one of them, Marine Staff Sergeant James R. Moore, who was reported missing-in-action on February 28, 1967 near Chu Lai, South Vietnam. Staff Sergeant Moore served with 9th Engineer Battalion, 1st Marine Division in Vietnam. He was our friend and brother.
On August 10, 1990, the 101st Congress passed U.S. Public Law 101-355, which recognized the POW-MIA flag as the nation's official symbol of America's commitment to provide the fullest possible accounting of U.S. personnel still missing and unaccounted for from the Vietnam War. The nation displays the POW-MIA flag on six days each year: Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, National POW-MIA Recognition Day and Veterans Day.
A few weeks from now on May 23 we will all enjoy another Memorial Day holiday. Please take time on this day to give thanks to all veterans, but take a special moment to remember and to reflect on those American's who are still listed as MIA. Let them and their families hear you say, "You are not forgotten."
In Memory of Staff Sergeant James R. Moore United States Marine Corps MIA February 28, 1967, RVN