By Charles Moncrief
On Friday, September 16, I was invited to give the Invocation at an event honoring our nation’s Prisoners of War and Missing in Action (POW/MIA).
What might ordinarily go unnoticed, until the Master of Ceremonies called our attention to it, was the Honor Table. The moderator explained the symbolism.
The table is round -- to show our everlasting concern for our missing.
Set for six, the empty places represent Americans still missing from each of the five services -- Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard –– and civilians. This Honors Ceremony symbolizes that they are with us, here in spirit.
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 loved ones and friends of these Americans who keep the faith, awaiting answers.
The vase is tied with a red 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 Bible represents the strength gained through faith to sustain those lost from our country, founded as one nation under God.
The glasses are inverted -- to symbolize their inability to share this day's toast.
The chairs are empty -- they are missing.
While I was moved deeply by this ceremony and the Moderator’s description of the Table of Honor, I was inescapably drawn to a brutal reality of others who are missing. It’s gratifying to know that so many groups are concerned with the missing. On this blog site, and on the Blog Talk Radio shows, these are just a few of the names we’ve read about:
Crystal Gayle Soles
Randy Wayne Leach
These and countless others have been taken from us.
We’ve read about the many -- too many -- who have been kidnapped and sold by human traffickers into some form of slavery. Their chairs, too, are empty. The bitter lemon peel and the salt of tears apply to them as well. These may not be missing in combat, but they too went through their own war zones. And the ones still alive have every justification when they wonder if they’ve been forgotten.
They have not been forgotten. Their captors may not be some nations’ military organizations. Their captors may not be some paramilitary group. Their captors may not be some crime syndicate. But when it gets down to the facts, the resulting circumstances are quite the same. An aggressor has inflicted misery, not only on the ones taken, but also on the families of the ones they took.
While we wonder if everyone is standing idly by, this is just not the case. I'm heartened when I read of a retired friend who sits in mall parking lots watching suspicious people from his car. He intervenes, mostly by becoming visible to these suspects who seem to be in the early stages of an assault on a woman coming out to her car. Joy comes to him on those occasions when the worthless scum break off their attack and drive away. What he does can be dangerous, but the rewards of a person’s safe passage through an infested parking lot can make the risks worthwhile.
Other organizations exist for the sole purpose of locating and bringing home the missing. One that comes to mind is the Cue Center for Missing Persons. And many organizations are committed, in whole or in part, to the safe return of the missing.
So please do take heart. If a loved one, or someone you may only know casually, turns up missing, there are those who care.
Grace and Peace,
“I’m an Anglican Priest, disguised as a geek during the week. It’s REALLY tough to change my costume, since phone booths are getting hard to find!”