May All Veterans Be Remembered

granddaddy and his plane
My grandfather was a WWII veteran. The plane behind him is similar to the one he flew in as a Bombardier. My grandfather, father, and husband are all veterans.

Veteran’s Day is the day we are thankful for all who have served and continue to serve our country everyday. Each year I enjoy seeing the retired veterans and active duty gathering at various restaurants, parades, and other celebratory activities. There is always an elderly man hunched over his cane. He once stood tall and fought for his country. Today, young men and women nod to him and pray, they too, can leave a legacy behind. Both are proud of their country and honored to serve.

In return,  many restaurants and stores dedicated discounts and free meals to these fine men and women. Some went above and beyond the discounts and did something that warmed veterans hearts. For instance, Applebee’s in St. Petersburg, FL set their first table aside for the evening. With a white tablecloth, POW/MIA flags, a candle, and even lemon and salt, they remembered those who could not be with us to celebrate. Not everyone understands the symbolism behind a POW/MIA Table, but veterans know it well and look upon it with heavy hearts.

POW/MIA Table at Applebee's St. Petersburg, FL was taken by Paul Coffee.
POW/MIA Table at Applebee’s St. Petersburg, FL was taken by Paul Coffee.

They remember what it represents:

It is set for one. This table is our way of symbolizing that members of our profession of arms are missing from our midst. They are commonly call POW’s or MIA’s…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… it symbolizes the frailty of one prisoner against his oppressors.

The 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 yellow ribbon, symbol of our continued determination to account for our missing.

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.

A pinch of salt symbolizes the tears endured by those missing and their families
who seek answers.

The glass is inverted — to symbolize their inability to share this evening’s toast.

The chair is empty — they are missing.

Remember… all of you who served with them and called them comrades, who
depended on their might and aid, and relied on them… for surely… they have
not forsaken you. ”

MIA/POW Table at Air Force Gala 2012
MIA/POW Table at Air Force Gala 2012

While you may be touched simply by reading the message above, Applebee’s certainly touched my heart. For one evening, they sacrificed a table and the money that could have been made there for a greater cause. Please remember all our veterans and if you are lucky enough to meet one, don’t be afraid to give em a big ol’ hug or wave and say, “Thank you for your service.”

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