An under-construction memorial and museum in Jacksonville to honor all former prisoners of war and those still missing in action is moving closer to receiving a national designation.
Jacksonville area Congressmen Al Lawson (FL-05) and John Rutherford (FL-04) have introduced legislation to make it official.
The House bill would give the POW/MIA Memorial & Museum at Cecil Field a national designation upon its completion, according to Lawson’s and Rutherford’s offices.
In an email to WJCT News, Rutherford said there are more than 82,000 Americans still missing from WWII, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and other conflicts.
“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 in the same email.
Jacksonville’s Mary Hoff, wife of MIA pilot LCDR Michael G. Hoff, was a major driving force behind establishing the memorial, according to Lawson’s and Rutherford’s offices.
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 memorial and museum is on 26 acres at Cecil Field, which formerly housed Naval Air Station Cecil Field Master Jet Base.
Jacksonville has one of the highest veteran populations in the nation.
A Gathering of the Pines - a ceremony honoring POW’s and those still missing in action - will be held at the Cecil Field Conference Center Saturday, September 21, as part of National POW/MIA Recognition Day.
A website has been established to keep the public up to date on the museum and memorial’s progress. Donations to support the museum and memorial are also being accepted at the website. A petition requesting the national designation is also on the website.