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National Former Prisoner of War Recognition Day is observed annually on April 9.

This day was introduced to honor American veterans of any wars that returned home after being released from prisons. The date of April 9 was chosen to commemorate the same day in 1942, when United States forces were surrendered by the Imperial Japanese Army on the Bataan Peninsula, beginning the Bataan Death March. All survivors were loaded to a box train and brought to the Camp O’Donnell. During the march prisoners were physically abused that caused their death.


The actions of Japanese Army were later judged to be a Japanese war crime. National Former POW Recognition Day had been observed from 1942 to 1976 on national level, but later only some states held commemorative services. Memorial marches took place at New Mexico and Minnesota, memorial service was held at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii. Due to the President Barack Obama’s initiatives, and continuation by President Trump, this day is observed on federal level.

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