Saturday, September 17th – 10:00am

We welcome Sarah Wagner, Associate Professor of Anthropology at George Washington University who will speak about her work with the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.  With some 88,000 unrecovered and unaccounted for service members from the previous century’s wars, the United States stands alone in its tireless pursuit of repatriating remains and identifying its missing men and women of uniform. The military’s forensic anthropology laboratory dedicated to this task is the largest facility of its kind in the world. The DNA extraction and analysis procedures developed to reattach individual names to unnamed American war dead have led to advances in forensic genetics across the globe. The efforts, simply put, are unprecedented and unparalleled.

This talk looks at the extraordinary science behind the U.S. military’s attempts to recover and identify its Missing In Action and unknown (and unidentifiable), drawing on examples from World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. It also considers what happens when the remains of fallen heroes return at long last to the families who survive them and the communities that still hold their memories dear.