POW/MIA Recognition

More than 82,000 Americans remain missing from World War II,
the Korean War, the Vietnam War,
 the Cold War, the Gulf War
and other conflicts.
 National POW/MIA Recognition Day,
is when Americans are asked to
pause and reflect on the sacrifices
made by the military men and women
who are imprisoned
or unaccounted for as a result
of their military service.
As part of the day of recognition,
held each year on
the third Friday of September,
Americans and businesses
should also fly their
POW/MIA flags,
which commemorate
U.S. servicemembers who are
recognized prisoners of war (POWs)
or are missing in action (MIA).
The following is a suggested POW/MIA Remembrance Service
to be used at American Legion
meetings, banquets, luncheons
or memorial gatherings
in conjunction with the
POW/MIA flag draped
over an empty chair.
Members should remove their caps during this service.
Those who have served,
and those currently serving
in the uniformed services
of the United States,
are ever mindful that the
sweetness of enduring peace
has always been tainted
by the bitterness of
personal sacrifice.
We are compelled to never forget
that while we enjoy our daily pleasures,
there are others who
have endured and may still
be enduring the agonies of pain, deprivation and imprisonment.
Before we begin our activities,
we pause to recognize our
POWs and MIAs.

We call your attention
to this small table which occupies
a place of dignity and honor.
It 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.
We call them comrades.
They are unable to be with their loved ones and families,
so we join together to pay humble
tribute to them,
and to bear witness to their
continued absence.
The table is small, symbolizing
the frailty of one prisoner,
alone against his or her suppressors.
The tablecloth is white,
symbolic of the purity of
their intentions to respond
to their Country’s call to arms.
The single rose in the vase signifies
the blood they may have shed in
sacrifice to ensure the freedom of
our beloved
United States of America.
This rose also reminds us of the
family and friends of our missing comrades who keep faith,
while awaiting their return.
The red ribbon on the vase represents 
an unyielding determination for a proper accounting of our comrades who
are not among us.
A slice of lemon on the plate
reminds us of their bitter fate.
The salt sprinkled on the plate
reminds us of the countless fallen tears
of families as they wait.
The glass is inverted,
they cannot toast with us at this time.
The chair is empty.
They are NOT here.
The candle is reminiscent of the
light of hope, which lives in our hearts
to illuminate their way home,
away from their captors,
to the open arms of a grateful nation.
The American flag
reminds us that many of them
may never return -
and have paid the supreme sacrifice
to insure our freedom.
Let us pray to the Supreme Commander
that all of our comrades
will soon be back within our ranks.
Let us remember -
and never forget their sacrifice.
May God forever watch over them
and protect them and their families.