Veteran’s Day Empty Chair
President Dwight D. Eisenhower, a veteran himself, signed legislation recognizing Nov. 11 as Veterans Day on June 1, 1954. Throughout November, the month of Thanksgiving, ceremonies will be held in several venues to give thanks to those who have served – and those currently serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.
Today there is, and perhaps there always will be, conflict in the world. But the United States fortunately enjoys peace and freedom. Like other things of great value, this security did not come cheaply. Part of the cost has already been paid by Americans who answered the call to military duty when their country needed them. They served in 11 wars, from the Revolution to the Persian Gulf, earning the special distinction “veteran.”
Today, we honor all veterans for their service and sacrifices for their country.
At our Veterans Day program, Brenda Donegan, Life Enrichment Coordinator, shared a tradition of setting a separate table in honor of our prisoners of war and missing comrades which has been in place since the end of the Vietnam War. By the way, as of this date, did you know we still have 58, 479 missing in action from that war?
The program was presented as follows:
“The manner in which this table is decorated is full of special symbols to help us remember our brothers and sisters in arms.
The POW/MIA table is smaller than the others, symbolizing the frailty of one prisoner alone against his or her oppressors.
The soft white tablecloth draped over the table represents the purity of their response to our country’s call to arms.
The empty chair depicts an unknown face, representing no specific Soldier, Sailor, Airman, or Marine, but all who are not here with us.
The table itself is round to show that our concern for them is never ending.
The Bible represents faith in a higher power and the pledge to our country, founded as one nation under God.
The black napkin stands for the emptiness these warriors have left in the hearts of their families and friends. A Purple Heart medal can be pinned to the napkin.
The single red rose reminds us of their families and loved ones. The red ribbon represents the love of our country, which inspired them to answer the nation’s call.
The candle and its yellow ribbon symbolize the everlasting hope for a joyous reunion with those yet accounted for.
The slices of lemon on the bread plate remind us of their bitter fate.
The salt upon the bread plate represent the tears of their families.
The wine glass, turned upside down, reminds us that our distinguished comrades cannot be with us to drink a toast or join in the festivities.”
When the service was completed there were very few dry eyes in the community. “This was by far the most meaningful veterans service in my 90 years of living,” said Merle Lashey, a WWII veteran and Primrose resident.
Vincent Howard, a Vietnam veteran said his tears were in memory of the many comrades killed or missing in action in that war. “The older you get, the more you realize just how dangerous that war was,” he said.
“To all veterans of all wars yesteryear and today, we give our humblest thanks,” said Donegan. “Because of your bravery and desire to serve your country, we can live in the land of the free and home of the brave.”