This Memorial Day, we present The Missing Man Table

This Memorial Day, we present The Missing Man Table

May 29th 2023

Each item on the Missing Man Table represents the emotions and feelings reserved for those who did not come home.  The ceremony symbolizes that they are with us, here in spirit.  All Americans should never forget the brave men and women who answered our nation's call to serve and fought for our freedom with honor.  There are many variations of the table, but it typically involves a ceremony and memorial that is often set up in military dining facilities of the United States Armed Forces and during official dining functions, in honor of fallen, missing, or imprisoned military service members.  The table is smaller than the others symbolizing the frailty of one prisoner alone against his or her oppressors.  It appears that the tradition of the Missing Man Table, also referred to as the POW/MAI Table, or Fallen Soldier Table, has been in place since the end of the Vietnam War.   

The table is set for one symbolizing the isolation of the absent service member.  

The table is round to show our everlasting concern for our missing brothers and sisters in arms.  

A white tablecloth draped over the table symbolizes the pure intentions of the service members who answered the call to serve. 

The single red rose, displayed in a vase, reminds us of the lives of these Americans and their loved ones and friends who keep the faith while seeking answers.  The single rose also symbolizes the blood that service members have shed in sacrifice to ensure the freedom of the United States of America.  

The red ribbon represents the love of our country, which inspired them to answer the nation's call.  It also symbolizes our continued determination to account for our missing.  Alternately, we have seen yellow ribbons used as a symbol of support for our troops.

A slice of lemon on the bread plate represents the bitter fate of the POW/MAI's; captured or missing in a foreign land.

A pinch of salt symbolizes the tears shed by waiting families who long for answers often after decades of uncertainty.  

An inverted glass represents that the missing and fallen cannot partake and symbolizes their inability to share a toast with us or join in the festivities of the evening.  

The lighted candle symbolizes a light of hope that lives in our hearts to illuminate the missing's way home.  

The chair is empty, depicts an unknown face, representing no specific soldier, sailor, airman, or marine, but all who are not here with us; the seat the remains unclaimed at the table, representing the absence of the missing and fallen.

In addition to these basic elements, we have seen a folded American Flag set on the table or across the dinner plate, a bible or prayer book, and POW/MAI flag draped across the chair.  

We remember the many brave men and women who have given their lives through the history of our country and to protect us from harm.  We remember all of those who sustained injury in mind and/or body in the course of their service.  

Thank You for Your Service... We Salute You!

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