Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center
Remembering those who are lost
Members of VFW Post 9509, including Commander L.C. Mills, installed and presented a new Missing Man Table in the Charleston VAMC canteen April 29. The Missing Man Table is a symbolic place of honor to remember fallen, missing, or imprisoned military service-members.
“We wanted something that would look first class and would represent the cause well,” said Mills.
The table is encased in a glass cover for security, cleaning and prevention of leaving items on it to maintain the proper dignity and respect of the display. It serves as the focal point of ceremonial remembrance, originally growing out of concern of the Vietnam War POW/MIA issue.
Labor for installation of the glass enclosure was donated and the VFW Post 9509 pooled together approximately $800 worth of monetary donations and purchased all of the items for the table.
Mills, who is also a volunteer DAV driver, said he was sitting in the canteen and was surprised and pleased by the number of people that stopped to take a look at the display and read the plaque beside the flag describing the meaning of each item on the table.
“The hope is that people will take a moment to stop and look at it and reflect on its true meaning,” said Mills. “Most everyone who has served knows someone who is gone – especially combat Veterans. The missing man table is important to us for that reason.”
Symbolic meaning of table items:
The table: The table is small, symbolizing the helplessness of one person, alone against his oppressors.
The chair: The chair is empty, for they are not here.
The cloth: The table cloth is white for the purity of their intention in responding to their Country’s call to arms.
The salt: The salt is symbolic of the tears shed by those who wait.
The glass: The glass is inverted, for they cannot toast with us.
The lemon: The slice of lemon is on the bread plate to remind us of their bitter fate.
The napkin: The napkin is black symbolizing the black hearts of some of our leaders and politicians who abandoned and forgot them.
The rose: The single red rose in a vase reminds us of the families and loved ones who have kept faith, awaiting the return of our POW/MIA’s.
The ribbon: The red ribbon represents the ribbon and symbols worn upon the lapels and breast of the thousands who bear witness to our nations’ unyielding determination to demand a proper accounting of out POW/MIA’s.
The Bible: The Bible represents the strength gained through faith to sustain those lost from our country, founded as one nation under God.
The candle: The candle is the light of hope which lives in our hearts to illuminate their way home, out of the hands of their oppressors and into the arms of a grateful Nation.