The Armed Forces History Museum in Largo, FL has a White Table of Remembrance set up and on display in the museum in recognition of our POW/MIA’s.
The White Table’s History
Though no one is able to trace the history of the White POW/MIA Table back to its very beginning, it is believed to have originated by the River Rats during the Vietnam War. Once the war was over, it is believed the tradition continued state-side as a commemorative to the fallen comrades as well as the men who were still missing in action. It wasn’t long before the tradition became a part of each military branch. Over the years, the “table” has evolved and there are some slight differentiations that exist between the tables set by each branch of the military. The general principle, and most of the setting, is similar.
- The tablecloth chosen for the table is always white. White symbolizes the pure intention with which the comrades honored have served.
- The table is small with a setting for just one person, reflecting the vulnerability of one prisoner against his enemy.
- A single rose in a vase sits on the table symbolizing the blood that has been shed. The rose also represents the families and loved ones that have been left behind and the faith they uphold that their loved one will one day return.
- A slice of lemon is placed on a bread plate as a reminder of their bitter fate. And the salt on this plate symbolizes the tears that have been shed by their families as they quietly wait.
- A glass on the table is inverted which denotes their inability to be with us and toast with us this night.
- A candle on the table represents the light in our hearts that accompanies the hope that they will one day find their way home.
- A chair is placed at the table and remains empty, for they are not here with us.
Let Us All Take a Moment to Remember
Most of us have not been deeply touched by the loss or the unknown whereabouts of a loved one who served in the military. We go about our daily rituals with little thought of those who died in combat, those still listed as missing in action or even those who may possibly still be held as prisoners of war. Our day should not be dismally overshadowed by such atrocities, however, we should never forget the sacrifices made by our military men and women and especially those (and their families) who gave the ultimate sacrifice – their life.
Make a promise to periodically remember those who have given so much in order for us to continue to enjoy the lifestyle’s we often take for granted. Make it a point to review and remember through the symbolism of The White Table.