One of the more unique features of the Vietnam War is how POWs and MIAs were treated and regarded by the country. Heretofore in wars this country has participated in POWs were tolerated as a necessary evil. When the wars were over the former POWs were thanked, checked out physically, given a pension, sent home and promptly forgotten about. The Vietnam War brought changes to that standard POW routine. Beginning with that war they were considered heroes.
There are several opinions as to how this situation developed. One popular idea is that because the Vietnam was so unpopular the POWs were more readily received as heroes. Another reason the attitudes toward POWs and MIAs is so different now is due to the efforts of people like Maureen Dunn. She helped spearhead the formation of the National League of Families of POWs/MIAs.
A story in the Randolph Wicked Local titled: Randolph chair remains empty in memory of Dunn’s efforts for Vietnam POWs submitted by Kari Strouth tells about a ceremony in her home town of Randolph, Massachusetts where the memory of Maureen Dunn, who died May 10, 2013, will be honored by the placement of a single back chair with the POW/MIA Logo flanked by the American Flag and the POW Flag. It will remain in the vestibule of Randolph Town Hall as a tribute to Dunn’s work and symbolically held empty, holding the seat open for those who have not returned.
Maureen Dunn had been married to Lt. Joseph P. Dunn less than three years when his plane was shot down over the South China Sea Feb. 14, 1968 during the Vietnam War. Alone and with their young son Joe II she began a relentless campaign that forever changed how the United States viewed its POWs and Soldiers Missing in Action. That campaign was a grassroots committee, begun in Randolph, called the Where is Lt. Joe Dunn Committee. Dunn was the co-founder of the National League of Families of POWs/MIAs and travelled across the country to raise awareness on behalf of American military personnel missing in action and their families.