The Flame of Hope monument was conceived in 1972as a volunteer project headed by Attack Squadron 43 atNaval Air Station Oceana. The monument providedsquadron personal with a means to express theirconcern for the Prisoners of War and Missing in Action(POW/MIAs) of the Vietnam War.
The monument was built by volunteers fromConstruction Battalion 415 and sponsored by theVirginia Beach Jaycees and Oceana wives of the"They're Not Forgotten" Committee.
The Virginia Beach Jaycees coordinated contributionsfrom the community which enabled VA-43 to obtain 50cubic feet of cement, a propane gas tank, the 34,000pound centerpiece, and fixtures for theplumbing for the torch. The Flame of Hope wasformally dedicated on Friday, May 22, 1972.
The original intent of the monument was to have a liveflame light the way for the return of all POW/MIAs from Southeast Asia, after which the flame would beextinguished. The dream of those promoting themonument was that " the flame burn briefly." However,as the war continued, the Flame of Hope became arallying point around which the Oceans wives' "They'reNot Forgotten" committee campaigned for greaterawareness of the plight of the POW/MIAs amongcitizens and the U.S. Congress.
In February 1973, the first of 565 American prisonerswere released as a result of the Vietnam Peace Accordsreturned home and it seemed like the dream to have theflame extinguished upon gainig a full accounting ofthose missing was drawing near.
When "Operation Homecoming" ended, the fate of overtwo thousand military men remained a mystery and theFlame of Hope continued to burn. However, the oilembargo of 1973 brought public pressure to extinguishthe flame as an energy-saving measure. On November20, 1973, the flame was extinguished over theobjections of those who feared for a loss of awarenessof those servicemen who were left behind. A decadepassed before members of the "They're Not Forgotten"committe were successful in stirring public concernwhen very few remains of missing Americans had beenreturned and over 2400 Americans remained in anunaccounted status. Their campaign succeeded onMarch 25, 1964 when the Flame of Hope was reignated.
On May 1, 1994, the Flame of Hope was rededicated asa continuous reminder that those who were killed orremain missing in Vietnam must never be forgotten.The Flame of Hope will continue to light the way forPOW/MIA families to gain a better understanding ofthe fate of their sons, husbands, fia?ces and fathers.