Missing Man Table

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The Chair is Empty –– They Are Not There

The Missing Man Table is traditionally a part of military dining-in ceremonies and service balls. When presented in a dining-in or service ball, a narration given to the audience explains the symbolism of each item.

The small table is set for one, representing the frailty of one prisoner, alone against his or her suppressors. The table is usually set close to or within sight of, the entrance to the dining room.

  • The table is round showing our everlasting concern for our POW/MIAs.
  • The cloth is white symbolizing the purity of their intentions to respond to their country’s call to arms.
  • The single red rose signifying the blood they may have shed in sacrifice to ensure the freedom of our beloved United States of America. This rose, reminding us of the family and friends of our missing comrades who keep the faith, while awaiting their return.
  • The yellow ribbon stands for the yellow ribbons worn on the tapes of thousands who demand with unyielding determination a proper accounting of our comrades who are not among us tonight.
  • A slice of lemon reminding us of the bitter fate of those missing, captured and held as prisoner in foreign lands.
  • A pinch of salt denoting the tears of our missing and their families who long for answers after decades of uncertainty.
  • The Holy Bible represents the strength gained through faith in our country, founded as one nation under God, to sustain those lost from our midst.
  • The lighted candle reflects the light of hope which lives in our hearts to illuminate their way home, away from their captors, to the open arms of a grateful nation.
  • The glass is inverted symbolizing their inability to share the evening’s toast.

Let us remember and never forget their sacrifices. May God forever watch over them and protect them and their families.