WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Friday, President Barack Obama signed the National POW/MIA Remembrance Act of 2015 into law. Congressman Lynch introduced and successfully pushed the bipartisan legislation through Congress in March with the help of United States Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), who introduced the bipartisan Senate companion bill. The legislation honors American service members who are Prisoners of War (POW) or Missing in Action (MIA) by placing a commemorative chair on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol.
“Our nation’s POW-MIAs should never be forgotten. Now, with the signing of this bill into law every American visiting the nation’s capital will have the opportunity to honor the incredible sacrifice made by those brave Americans whose fate is still unknown and the courage of the families that are left behind,” said Senator Markey. “I thank President Joe D’Entremont and the members of the Massachusetts Chapter of Rolling Thunder for their tireless efforts to establish a commemorative chair on the U.S. Capitol grounds and ensure that our service members receive the recognition they earned through their noble service to our nation.”
“I am very pleased that President Obama signed H.R. 1670, the National POW/MIA Remembrance Act of 2015into law. Each day, members of Congress and visitors to the U.S. Capitol will pass by the chair of honor and take a moment to pay respect to our Prisoners of War and Missing in Action who bravely serve our nation with honor and valor,” said Congressman Lynch. “I applaud Joe D’Entremont, Gus Dante, and Rolling Thunder Massachusetts Chapter 1 for their leadership both in Massachusetts and across our country in advocating for increased government accountability for POW/MIA and their families. It was the strong advocacy of Rolling Thunder that brought this bill to the finish line and on to the President’s desk.”
“My three older brothers served in the military, and I appreciate the sacrifices our servicemembers and their families make each day to keep our country safe. It’s our duty to honor those who have served our nation with courage, including those who have not made it home,” said Senator Warren. “This commemorative chair will serve as a lasting reminder to honor America’s missing servicemembers and prisoners of war, and I thank the Massachusetts Chapter of Rolling Thunder and Rolling Thunder National for their hard work to get this bill passed and signed into law.”
The National POW/MIA Remembrance Act of 2015 directs the Architect of the Capitol to place a commemorative chair bearing the logo of the National League of POW/MIA Families in a prominent location in the U.S. Capitol. Commemorative chairs, which carry the Prisoners of War and Missing in Action insignia, have been placed in cities and towns around the country, in spaces ranging from city halls to professional sports stadiums. These seats remain perpetually unoccupied as a solemn reminder of the over 83,000 brave service members still waiting to be brought home.
Joe D’Entremont of Jamaica Plain, the former President of Rolling Thunder Massachusetts Chapter 1, first brought this initiative to the attention of Congressman Lynch and Senator Warren in 2014. D’Entremont and Gus Dante, both members of Rolling Thunder, Inc. National, have worked hard to promote government accountability for American POW and MIA and their families. They have also been national leaders in advocating for POW/MIA chairs in venues across the country.
H.R. 1670, the National POW/MIA Remembrance Act of 2015, passed the House of Representatives unanimously on March 21, 2016 and passed the Senate unanimously on April 14, 2016.
The text of the law is available here.