Few know better the sacrifices and suffering of a Veteran family than the families of those who are captured in war or go missing in action. On the third Friday in September each year, these brave men and women are recognized. The POW/MIA flag, featuring a lone figure on a field of white, fenced in by barbed wire and surveilled from a guard tower, is flown across the country, prominently displayed beneath the American Flag, driving home the message that is printed along the bottom of the flag, “You are not forgotten”. This is only one of six days a year that this flag is allowed to be flown.
However these veterans are recognized and remembered year round at the permanent POW/MIA display located in the chapel of our guest lodge here at the VFW National Home for Children. There is a placard on the table explaining that this small table symbolizes a setting for one and the fact that members of the military, our comrades, are missing from our midst.
The table represents the frailty of one prisoner alone against his oppressors. The white table cloth, the purity of their intentions to respond to their country’s call to arms. The single red rose reminds us of the families and loved ones who keep the faith, waiting for their return, and the red ribbon is reminiscent of the red ribbon worn on the lapel and breasts of thousands who bear witness to their unyielding determination to demand proper accounting of our missing. The candle symbolizes the upward reach of their un-conquerable spirits. The lemon reminds us of their bitter fate, and the salt symbolizes their family’s tears as they wait. The glass on the table is inverted, because they cannot toast with us tonight and the chair is empty because they are not here. “Remember” the placard says, “Remember. Remember”. Until the day they come home.