WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Three U.S. senators urged President Joe Biden on Friday to restore a flag honoring missing war veterans atop the White House after former President Donald Trump angered some veterans by moving it last year to a less prominent location.
The POW-MIA flag, dedicated to prisoners of war and service members missing in action, was relocated in 2020 from a prominent position atop the White House to a spot on the South Lawn. That move came months after Trump signed a law requiring the flag to be flown every day at certain federal properties including the White House.
“We ask that you take swift action to restore the flag to its place of honor atop the White House, thereby prominently recognizing the service and sacrifices of American prisoners of war, missing service members, and their families,” Democratic Senators Maggie Hassan and Elizabeth Warren and Republican Senator Tom Cotton write in a letter released on Friday, which was first reported by Reuters.
“This issue is critically important to veterans and other Americans who care deeply about the POW/MIA flag as a sign that we will never forget about the thousands of American service members who are still far from home against their will,” said the senators, who co-sponsored the measure signed by Trump.
The White House did not respond to a request for comment.
Biden, who took office on Wednesday, has often extolled his deceased son Beau’s military service in Iraq.
The black-and-white POW-MIA flag reads, “You are not forgotten,” and depicts a man beneath a guard tower gazing down at a barbed-wire fence. About 82,000 U.S. servicemembers are still listed as missing from conflicts dating back to World War Two.
U.S. law requires the flag to be displayed in certain places in a “manner designed to ensure visibility to the public.” In its current position, the flag can be viewed from limited vantage points outside the White House complex. Trump’s White House declined to explain why the flag was relocated but said last year it was done in a private ceremony with full military honors.
Hassan and Warren previously described that move as disrespectful and potentially illegal, while some veterans groups criticized it. The American Ex-Prisoners of War, one of those groups, described the move as a “slap in the face.”
Organizations representing veterans and missing service members welcomed the letter sent by the senators.
“The National League of POW/MIA Families deeply appreciates the bipartisan support that Senators Hassan, Warren and Cotton have again demonstrated by asking President Biden to restore our POW/MIA flag to its intended place atop the White House,” Ann Mills-Griffith, who heads the National League of POW/MIA Families, said in a statement.
Reporting by Alexandra Alper; Editing by Peter Cooney and Will Dunham
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