On the third Friday of every September we pay tribute to the lives and contributions of the more than 83,000 Americans who are still either Prisoners of War or Missing in Action. But it is not just this one day we should remember, but every day. "Leave no one behind" is a familiar refrain which echoes throughout the ranks of our Armed Forces. This motto is also what propels the men and women of U.S. Pacific Command's Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC), who tirelessly devote themselves to finding the remains of those still unaccounted for in foreign lands. Across the globe, JPAC toils day and night, tracking every lead, every testimonial, every thread of evidence to find the next clue to where one of our service members may have been held captive behind enemy lines.
While JPAC's task is challenging, their cause is worthy. Those who never made it home hold a special place in our hearts, and it is the responsibility of the living to give them a proper resting place here at home on American soil.
In one of the most recent examples of JPAC's tenacity and dedication, this past July, the remains of Lt Col Clarence F. Blanton, U.S. Air Force, were returned. Lt Col Blanton was lost on March 11, 1968, in Houaphan Province, Laos, and is a symbol of hope for all those who are missing. The return of his remains after a 42 year search is a reminder that no matter how much time elapses, no cause is lost. We must keep a light lit to guide these men home. And until all are returned to their families, we need to keep a torch burning and held high for all to see.
We are committed to finding all 83,000 POW/MIAs and bringing them back to the home they sacrificed so much to defend.
On Friday, a new POW/MIA Kiosk was dedicated in Washington, D.C. It is located on our National Mall between the Vietnam Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial. Its placement is fitting, given that these sacred places are powerful testaments to American grit, courage, and dedication to the cause of freedom. Millions of Americans from across the nation visit our Nation's capitol every year, and through this Kiosk they will learn the stories of our POW/MIAs. They will hear from family members and friends of those who gave their last full ounce of devotion for our country. Of all the museums and memorials they visit in our nation's capital, this special place will always have a name, a face, a life etched into their mind. This is a living memorial.
Here on the home front, Rolling Thunder and others stand up for their battle buddies who haven't yet returned. I implore you, as fellow Americans who live free because of their sacrifices, to pray for our lost heroes. We have an obligation to support their return, and we must not cease until each is embraced by the spirit of the American people and shrouded once again in the undying love of their families. It is only through this constant vigil that we will ensure all of our 83,000 POW/MIAs are recovered.