The Franklin County Commission is urging all businesses and residences to proudly display the POW/MIA flag in honor of the tens of thousands of servicemen and -women who were detained by an enemy during conflict and whose whereabouts may be unknown.
On Tuesday, the commission proclaimed Franklin County as a “POW-MIA County” and encouraged citizens to continue showing their appreciation for the sacrifices made by the nation’s POWs and MIAs, along with their families in the defense of American liberties and values.
The proclamation adds that homeowners and businesses in Franklin County are encouraged to display the POW/MIA flags when practical and appropriate in conjunction with the flag of the United States. It also extends somber appreciation and gratitude to all POW/MIA family members who continue to carry the burden of their personal loss and offer encouragements that the fate and location of their missing loved ones will be made known again.
Presiding Commissioner Tim Brinker said the official proclamation was needed to allow the county to enter into an agreement with the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT)
In the next few weeks, every road entering Franklin County will be marked with a sign signifying its designation as the first POW/MIA county in the nation.
Brinker said the county ordered 25 signs, 24 inches by 30 inches, at a cost of $75 each.
Unfortunately, according to the MoDOT, which will be installing the signs, errors were made in the production of the signs, specifically the text-to-size-ratio is wrong.
Because of the error, a variance is required before the signs can be displayed.
Other criteria for the POW/MIA designation are as simple as putting up some signage at the entrances to the county, flying the POW/MIA flags, and setting up ceremonial missing man tables at events.
The pursuit of the designation began more than a year ago in March 2018 when Brinker was approached by a veterans group.
In late February of this year, the county received the first ever POW/MIA designation in the United States by board members of the St. Louis POW/MIA museum.
Now, Franklin County’s role in the process has opened the door for the program to spread over the state and nationwide.
Brinker said the county is honored to receive the first ever designation and happy to help the POW/MIA group.
“I was totally unaware of this program until it was brought to my attention by the Washington Korean War Veterans group,” Brinker said “We decided to wholeheartedly pursue the designation.”
Early in the designation process, some issues arose with the veterans group receiving certification from the U.S. Department of State.
The request was initially declined due to a problem with the specificity of the request, but with the help of Gov. Mike Parson’s office, the designation was approved for the county.
POW-MIA Museum President Paul Dillion said without the help of Franklin County, the program wouldn’t be happening here or anywhere else in the state.
Currently, only five individual cities have the designation. Fenton was the first city receiving the designation in December of 2016, followed shortly thereafter by St. Ann, Bellefontaine Neighbors and Caledonia. Jefferson City received the designation last fall. The city of Farmington also be joining the list very soon.
Washington Mayor Sandy Lucy also was requested to make Washington a POW/MIA city.
The POW/MIA city and county project is an extension of the POW-MIA Museum based at Jefferson Barracks in South St. Louis County, which is currently raising funds to continue renovations.
The Jefferson Barracks POW-MIA Museum is the only one of its kind in the country because it focuses on telling the stories of both POWs and MIAs.
Dillion explained the mission includes raising the awareness of the American public to the numbers of captured Americans who returned alive, to the numbers of those who perished in captivity, and to the numbers of those service personnel missing who have not yet been returned for the homage they deserve.