Jackson County will begin flying a POW/MIA flag near Jackson County Circuit Court to commemorate prisoners of war and military members who are missing in action.
In October 2017, a group of veterans who served in wars from World War II to Iraq asked the Jackson County Board of Commissioners to begin flying a POW/MIA flag in the August D. Singler Memorial Plaza between Jackson County Circuit Court and the Jackson County Jail in Medford.
Although the request seemed simple, it was complicated by the fact that the plaza is home to a single flagpole with an American flag. The pole is so short it doesn't have room to fly a POW/MIA flag properly beneath the national flag — especially when the American flag is lowered during periods of mourning.
After commissioners said they supported the veterans' request to fly a POW/MIA flag, county staff solicited bids to install three flagpoles on the plaza for American, Oregon and POW/MIA flags. Bids ranged from about $20,000 to $30,000.
Using the lowest bid, the cost for the project, including flags and pole installation, is $20,619, according to County Administrator Danny Jordan.
"We're very appreciative of the county doing this," said Vietnam veteran Hugh Crawford, commander of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1833. "The county commissioners and administrator have been great about it. We realize it costs quite a bit."
Jordan said the flagpoles could be installed as soon as this weekend.
Commissioners and local veterans groups agreed to work together to plan a dedication ceremony that will honor local veterans who were prisoners of war. The ceremony has not been scheduled yet.
In planning the event, commissioners and veterans will tap into the expertise of local law enforcement agencies, which hold an annual memorial service on the plaza to honor fallen officers.
The plaza memorializes law enforcement officers in the county who lost their lives in the line of duty, including Singler, who was shot by an outlaw while serving as sheriff in 1913.
Crawford said the county's move to install a POW/MIA flag demonstrates its commitment to veterans.
"I'm very proud of our county," he said.
In 2015, the Oregon Legislature passed a law that requires a POW/MIA flag to be flown at all state and county courthouses with existing flagpoles. However, state law doesn’t require existing buildings to add additional or taller flagpoles to accommodate a POW/MIA flag if their poles aren’t sufficient.