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By Doc Watson
Special to the Herald Times
MEEKER | A few Meeker residents gathered at the VFW on Veterans Day to observe the Missing Man Table (also known as the Fallen Comrade Table), which is actually a permanent fixture at the post but is emphasized more specifically on certain occasions. Its purpose is to honor our fallen, missing or imprisoned military service members.
Having originally grown out of American concern of the Vietnam War POW/MIA issue, it now appears in military dining facilities of the U.S. Armed Forces. It is also set up for such special occasions as service branch birthday balls, dining-in ceremonies and, of course, Memorial Day and Veterans Day.
The symbolism is striking. The table itself, set for one, is small, symbolizing the frailty of one isolated soldier. The tablecloth is white, symbolizing their purity of motive in service. The ribbon symbolizes love of country that motivated answering the call to service, and the red rose reminds us of the blood shed for our country. The bitter fate of the missing is pictured in the slice of lemon, and the salt sprinkled on the bread plate is a graphic reminder of the countless fallen tears of families. The empty chair underscores the absence of the fallen one, and the inverted glass is a reminder that they can no longer partake. Finally, the Bible represents the strength gained through faith to sustain those lost from our country, founded as one nation under God, and the lit candles remind us all of the light of hope that lives in our hearts to illuminate the way home.
It is all a fitting tribute, indeed, to those who are gone but not forgotten.