The Missing Man Table
Those who served in Vietnam, share with all other war veterans an awful knowledge and understanding of the true cost of war, for we are all individuals who served an experience of fright and terror that has no equal, an experience which forever changed and shaped each veteran’s life. We also share a knowledge and understanding of the deep bonds of friendship and companionship which were forged by that experience, and a knowledge and understanding of the profound pain, caused by the breaking of those bonds when those with whom we served, disappeared from our midst, or fell into unfriendly hands. That deep pain lingers still as we continue our quest for an answer to our question, “Where are they?”
On this day we know one thing… "They are not here!"
Please join us as we prepare a table for them in a place of honor. The symbolism of the items and the table, are our way of recognizing the kindred feeling that members of our profession of arms are missing from our midst.
Commonly called POW or MIA’s we call them Brothers. They are unable to be here with us, so, through these symbolic items we remember them today.
The table set for one is small – symbolizing the frailty of one prisoner, alone against his aggressors.
The cloth is white – symbolizing the purity of their intentions to respond to their country’s call to arms.
The single Red Rose displayed in a vase – reminds us of the life of each of the missing, and their loved ones and friends who keep the faith awaiting their return.
The Yellow Ribbon – tied so prominently on the vase is a symbol of the faithful families and loved ones who still wait for word of their missing warrior. It is reminiscent of the ribbons worn on the lapels and breasts of thousands who bear witness to our unyielding determination to demand a proper accounting for our missing.
A slice of lemon on the bread plate - is to remind us of the bitter fate of those captured or missing in a foreign land.
A pinch of salt – Symbolizes the tears endured by those missing and their families who seek answers.
The glass is inverted – because they cannot toast with us today.
The POW/MIA flag – is a symbol to all that see it that we will never forget. It is placed on the chair where they should be sitting today.
The chair remains empty – They are not here. Remember! All of you who served with them, and called them comrade… You who depended on their might and aid… who relied upon them; Do not forsake them. Pray for them and remember them. They are still missing.
The lighted candle – the flickering candlelight. In the strange and terrifying ways of war, the light becomes dangerous. In the darkness of night, to show a light, to strike a match, could give away positions and invite the terror of battle and sudden death. So the warrior learns to live in darkness.
This does not mean, however, that the warrior forgets the light. No, the light becomes a dream. The flame of freedom, the warmth of family, and the bright welcome home, make up the warriors dream. For those who are missing, or remain as prisoners in a foreign land, darkness is a constant companion. Surely they yearn for the light
Those of us gathered here have the gift, and so we must keep the flame lit.