The tradition of setting a separate table in honor of our prisoners of war and missing comrades has been in place since the end of the Vietnam War. The manner in which this table is decorated is full of special symbols to help us remember our brothers and sisters in arms. Those symbols are spelled out in OPNAVINST 1710.7A.
Items on the table
The white table cloth represents the purity of their intentions. The red rose signifies the blood that they shed as a sacrifice to their country. A slice of lemon on the plate reminds is of their bitter fate. The sprinkled salt reminds us of the countless fallen tears of families as they wait. The glass inverted - they cannot toast with us this night. The chair is empty - they are not here.
All those who fought and served their country when they received the call, were men and women of courage, judgment, integrity and dedication. Where does dedication end? You can never put an end to dedication. After all, those who remain Prisoners of War or are still Missing in Action are still serving with never ending dedication. For them, it can never be over. For us, we can never let their sacrifices, or them, be forgotten.