The Pocahontas County Veterans Honor Corps holds a POW/MIA [Prisoner of War/Missing in Action] Remembrance Ceremony each year at its Veterans Day dinner to honor service men and women who have not returned home.
Honor Corps Commander Rick Wooddell and Honor Corps member Willard Pingley conduct the ceremony at a small round table, which holds several symbolic items.
The Honor Corps also performed the ceremony at the county schools this year.
POW/MIA Remembrance Ceremony
“This small table, which occupies a place of dignity and honor, is set for one, symbolizing the fact that members of our armed forces are missing from our ranks,” Wooddell said. “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 in a public tribute to them and bear witness to their continued absence.
“The table is small, symbolizing the frailty of one prisoner, alone against his or her oppressors. It is round, showing that our concern for them is never ending.
“The table cloth is white, a symbol of the purity of their intentions to respond to their country’s call to arms. The single red 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 the faith while awaiting their return.
“The red ribbon on that vase signifies the red ribbons worn on the lapels of thousands who demand, with unyielding determination, a proper accounting for our comrades who are not among us.
“A slice of lemon on the plate reminds us of their bitter fate. The black napkin stands for the emptiness these warriors have left in the hearts of their families and friends. The salt, sprinkled on the plate, reminds us of the countless fallen tears of families as they wait.
“The Holy Bible represents the strength gained through the faith of our country, founded as one nation, under God, to sustain those who are lost from our midst. The wine glass is inverted. They cannot toast us at this time or join in the festivities of this day. The chair is empty. It depicts an unknown face, representing no specific soldier, sailor, airman or marine, but all who are not here with us.
“The white candle is reminiscent of the light of hope which lives in our heart to illuminate their way home, away from their captors, to the open arms of a grateful nation. The yellow ribbon attached to this candle symbolizes the everlasting hope for a joyous reunion with those yet unaccounted for.
“Finally, the American flag reminds us that many of them may never return and have paid the ultimate sacrifice to ensure our freedom.
“Let us remember and never forget their sacrifice. May God forever watch over them and protect them and their families.”