Remembering All POWs and MIAs from our History

October 3, 2014
Dot Carter and her granddaughter Olivia performed the Missing Men Table Ceremony

Dot Carter and her granddaughter Olivia performed the Missing Men Table Ceremony

by Lynne Ober

Members of the Pelham VFW Post 10722 held a dinner and performed a ceremony to remember everyone who had been a prisoner of war, served in a war zone or is still missing in action.

The dinner was delicious and the ceremony was moving.

Post Commander Jim Ehlinger opened the ceremony by welcoming everyone.  His message to the audience was that America would never forget the events that had taken American lives or the people who fought to preserve our way of life.

Throughout the ceremony, various members of the VFW read remembrances which covered not only service men and women but also those first responders and victims of the 9/11 attack on America.

The Missing Men Table Ceremony is generally done at banquets, dinners, or any other occasions where setting up a dinner table would appear appropriate.  This ceremony is done to acknowledge the inability of our missing to be with us in the celebrations we hold, because they have been left behind, and to honor their sacrifice for this country.  Dot Carter and her granddaughter Olivia were honored to give an explanation about the Missing Men Table.

Dot Carter explained the tradition this way:  “As you entered the post this evening, you may have noticed a small white table in a place of honor.  It is set for one.  It is reserved to honor our missing loved ones who are unable to be with us this evening.  We call them our brothers.  This table is small representing the fragility of one against his oppressors.

“The tablecloth is white – symbolizing the purity of their motives when answering the call to duty.  The single red rose, displayed in a vase, reminds us of the life of each of the missing, and the loved ones and friends of these Americans who keep the faith, awaiting answers.  The vase is tied with a red ribbon, symbol of our continued determination to account for our missing.  A slice of lemon on the bread plate is to remind us of the bitter fate of those captured and missing in a foreign land.  A pinch of salt symbolizes the tears endured by those missing and their families who seek answers.”

As Carter read the items, Olivia solemnly displayed each for the audience to see.

“The Loneliest Prayer” then was read, bells were rung in remembrance and the audience joined together to remember those who served: those who made the ultimate sacrifice and those who returned home – never to forget.