Symbolic service honors POWs and MIAs
by Melanie Jongsma
LANSING, Ill. (September 5, 2018) – Newly installed Auxiliary President Lorraine Przybyl began her tenure by introducing a new tradition to the group—the POW/MIA Remembrance Service, or “Missing Man Table.”
The ceremony is commonly observed in conjunction with Veterans Day or Memorial Day by various branches of the military, but the Women’s Auxiliary had never made it part of their practice. The September 5 observance was their first, and it added an extra layer of meaning to the annual installation of officers and the business meeting that followed.
Przybyl had asked Trustee Maureen Grady-Perovich, who is an Honor Flight Chicago volunteer and does significant work with veterans, to lead the ceremony. Grady-Perovich read from a script that explained the purpose of the service and the symbolism of the table that had been set.
- The table is set for one, symbolizing the fact that members of our armed forces are missing from our ranks. They are referred to as POWs and MIAs.
- The table is small, symbolizing the frailty of one prisoner, alone against his or her suppressors.
- The chair is empty—they are not here.
- The white tablecloth symbolizes the purity of their intentions to respond to their country’s call to arms.
- A single rose in a vase signifies the blood they shed to ensure our freedom. It also reminds us of the family and friends who keep faith while waiting for their return.
- A slice of lemon on the plate reminds us of their bitter fate, and salt sprinkled on the plate calls to mind the countless fallen tears of families who wait.
- The wine glass is inverted—they cannot toast with us at this time.
- The candle is reminiscent of the light of hope, living in our hearts to illuminate their way home.
- The American flag reminds us that many of them may never return, for they have paid the supreme sacrifice to ensure our freedom.
Observing the POW/MIA ceremony is one way the members of the Edward Schultz Auxiliary will fulfill their mission as outlined in the Preamble to their Constitution, which they had recited at the opening of the meeting. One of the purposes they commit to is “to preserve the memories and incidents of our associations during the great wars.”
Edward Schultz Auxiliary #697 meets at the American Legion at 18255 Grant Street in Lansing, Illinois.