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|1991 Gulf War:
Freedom isn't free!
There are heroes in the thousands
who have been held as prisoners of war or whose fate has never been resolved.
Many have been lost in the chaos of battle, the grief of their loss made more
acute for their families and their fellow Americans because of the inability to
determine whether these heroes perished or survived. Americans captured,
cruelly stripped of their freedom, treated with contempt and brutality, or used
as pawns by their captors in a larger political struggle, have fought long,
lonely battles against despair, physical and psychological torture, and the
ultimate fear of being forgotten.
The citizens of the United States
owe a great debt of gratitude to these heroes. So it is with deep respect,
great pride and the utmost dignity that we present the following ceremonies -
Missing Man Table & Honors Ceremony and The POW MIA Remembrance
Missing Man Table & Honors Ceremony
As you entered the dining area, you may
have noticed a table at the front, raised to call your attention to its purpose
-- it is reserved to honor our missing loved ones [or missing comrades in arms,
Set for six, the empty places represent Americans still
[our men] missing from each of the five services -- Army, Navy, Marine Corps,
Air Force, Coast Guard - and civilians. This Honors Ceremony symbolizes that
they are with us, here in spirit.
Some [here] in this room were very
young when they were sent into combat; however, all Americans should never
forget the brave men and women who answered our nation's call [to serve] and
served the cause of freedom in a special way.
I would like to ask you
to stand, and remain standing for a moment of silent prayer, as the Honor Guard
places the five service covers and a civilian cap on each empty plate.
(In silence or with dignified,
quiet music as background, the Honor Guard moves into position around the table
and simultaneously places the covers of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force
and Coast Guard, and a civilian hat, on the dinner plate at each table setting.
The Honor Guard then departs.)
Please be seated ....... I would like to
explain the meaning of the items on this special table.
The table is
round -- to show our everlasting concern for our missing men.
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[ir] 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
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.
of salt symbolizes the tears endured by those missing and their families who
The Bible represents the strength gained through faith
to sustain those lost from our country, founded as one nation under God.
The glass is inverted -- to symbolize their inability to share this
evening's [morning's/day's] toast.
The chairs are empty -- they are
Let us now raise our water glasses in a toast to honor
America's POW/MIAs and to the success of our efforts to account for them.
The POW MIA Remembrance
As you entered the banquet hall this evening, you may have noticed a small
table in a place of honor. It is set for one. This table is our way of
symbolizing the fact that members of our profession of arms are missing from
our midst. They are commonly called POWs or MIAs, we call them "Brothers." They
are unable to be with us this evening and so we remember them.
Table set for one is small -- Symbolizing the frailty of one prisoner alone
against his oppressors. Remember!
The Tablecloth is white --
Symbolizing the purity of their intentions to respond to their country's call
to arms. Remember!
The single Red Rose displayed in a vase reminds us
of the families and loved ones of our comrades-in-arms who keep the faith
awaiting their return. Remember!
The Red Ribbon tied so prominently on
the vase is reminiscent of the red ribbon worn upon the lapel and breasts of
thousands who bear witness to their unyielding determination to demand a proper
accounting of our missing. Remember!
The Candle, the candle is lit --
Symbolizing the upward reach of their unconquerable spirit. Remember!
A Slice of Lemon is on the bread plate to remind us of their bitter fate.
There is Salt upon the bread plate -- Symbolic of the
families tears as they wait. Remember!
The Glass is inverted -- They
cannot toast with us this night. Remember!
The Chair -- The chair is
empty. They are not here. Remember!
Remember! -- All of you who served
with them and called them comrades, who depended upon their might and aid, and
relied upon them, for surely, they have not forsaken you.
Remember! -- Until the day they come home, Remember!
TABLE SET UP:
1. A small, round bistro
2. White tablecloth
3. Single place setting, preferably all
4. Wine glass - inverted
5. Salt shaker
6. Slice of lemon on
bread plate with a pile of spilled salt
7. Small bud vase with a single
stem red rose
8. RED ribbon tied around the vase
9. Candle - lit
10. Empty chair
of this ceremony