WASHINGTON -- The Defense Department recommitted itself to its solemn pledge to make every effort to bring home all of its missing men and women to their families, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said at the National Prisoner Of War and Missing in Action Recognition Day ceremony on the Pentagon's River Terrace Parade Grounds Friday, Sept. 16.

"We're honored to be joined today by former POWs, individuals who endured captivity courageously and honorably during World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam," the secretary said.

"To the families attending today and around the world -- whether you've been reunited or are still waiting for your loved one -- thank you for your patriotism and courage in the face of uncertainty, and thank you for all you've given to this country."

DOD's DEDICATION

DOD works hard to meet its commitment to yesterday's personnel to honor their service and their families, Carter said.

"We know what it means to the men and women serving today, those who will serve in the future and their families as they see everything we're doing to provide the fullest possible accounting of those who served before," he told his audience. "They know we'll do the same for them."

Service members will stop at nothing to accomplish their missions -- whether they are called upon to stand with allies and stand up to Russia's aggression in Europe, manage change in the vital Asia-Pacific region, deter North Korea's provocations, counter Iran's malign activities, or defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and The Levant -- because, "They know we'll stop at nothing, and make every effort to bring them home to their families," the secretary said.

"Together, we can meet our sacred commitment to the force of yesterday, today and tomorrow," Carter said.

SALUTING PATRIOTISM, COURAGE, BRAVERY

Air Force Gen. Paul J. Selva, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, declared on behalf of Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and every service member, "We salute you for your patriotism, courage and bravery. Thank you for your being here today."

"It is truly an honor to be here today as we pay homage to often unsung heroes," Selva said, noting that, "former POWs and their families have taught today's military the meaning of legacy of honor and duty [which] we strive to carry out every single day."

To the families of those still missing in action, Selva said their sacrifice is humbling, "and we thank you for your faith and perseverance. You are for us a beacon of hope."

SELVA RECOGNIZES FAMILIES' SACRIFICES

The vice chairman extolled the families of prisoners of war and service members missing in action for the sacrifices they have made in rebuilding their lives, enduring the hardship of not knowing, and living with the difficulty of holding out hope.

"The motto that flies on the POW and MIA flag is one that we've internalized to our very core," Selva said of the words, "you are not forgotten" that appear on the flag.

"We will never forget. It is emblazoned on our hearts as is the memory of every member that we have lost in battle, and remains missing in action," the vice chairman said.