The question is asked relatively frequently as to why another “mysterious” flag, black in color and smaller in size, is under the U.S. flag, primarily on the Capitol Building and other federal buildings.
“Flying over the White House right now are two flags. the US and another that looks like a Black flag with the Presidential Seal on it. Does anyone know what the flag is?” asked Twitter user @SanskritSand.
Flying over the White House right now are two flags. the US and another that looks like a Black flag with the Presidential Seal on it. Does anyone know what the flag is?
— Lightning "Bolt" Bruce (@SanskritSand) March 29, 2020
The flag pays tribute to U.S. service members held as prisoners or missing in action and is to be flown at designated locations, such as the U.S. Capitol, the White House, and national cemeteries.
Then-President Donald Trump signed the bill (P.L. 116-67) into law on Feb. 21, 2020, stating the flag would be displayed every day. According to the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) media outlet, the bill expanded the previous law that authorized the raising only six days a year, according to VFW media outlet.
“This is a historic victory for every man and woman who courageously defended this nation and remains unaccounted for,” said VFW Commander-in-Chief William “Doc” Schmitz.
In March 2019, Rep. Jack Bergman (R-Mich.), a retired Marine Corps lieutenant general, and Rep. Chris Pappas (D-N.H.) introduced the POW/MIA [short for Prisoners of War and Missing in Action] National Flag Act in the House, which passed in November 2019.
Separately, last year, during a Memorial Day event, the black flag was moved from the White House flagpole to a new memorial garden on the White House grounds. The flags are printed with the inscription, “POW & MIA, you will not be forgotten.”
In January, several senators requested that it be placed back under the U.S. flag to regain the visibility that had diminished in the garden, and so it reappeared raised on the Capitol flagpole, according to Stars and Stripes.
“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 services members, and their families,” the senators said in their petition.
An estimated 82,000 Americans are missing as prisoners of war, or in combat in wars or conflicts of the past.