Remembrance. A Military Tradition Honoring our Comrades.

As a photographer for the Army, I have been to a number of military balls. At each ball, whether it was active, Reserve or National Guard, there is always one specific table. It is the prisoner of war/missing in action table, or as we call it the POW/MIA Table. The table is very symbolic and rich in military tradition.

Everything on the table means something, and part of the ceremony is to explain each element. This helps each servicemember remember and informs any unknowing guest. The table can be set up, but bare of its items, so that there can be a Soldier bringing each item to the table while the meaning is described. Or, the table can already be set up with all the items while the symbolism is explained. Either way, it is a solemn event and one of honor to see and participate in.

This particular table was a military ball at Fort Gordon in 2011, when my unit returned from Afghanistan.

Ball-068small edit

While in Afghanistan, a unit conducted a military ball as well. Obviously, some modifications had to made as certain supplies were not available (or allowed), but the meaning had just the same effect. It was just more spartan of a scene.

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I have heard the script vary slightly over the years in different ceremonies, but the main elements are all the same regardless of the wording. Below is a sample of a script for those of you interested, and unfamiliar, to the symbolism of each item on the table.

“The POW MIA Remembrance Ceremony”

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.

This 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 Yellow [sometimes red as well] 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 [sometimes yellow as well] 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……….Remember!…………………..

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!……………….

Remember! — Until the day they come home,………Remember!……

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

For Leanne ColesMonochrome Madness Challenge.

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