A Place Setting for one, a Table for all

A Place Setting for one, a Table for all

By: Dan Hayes, Editor-in-Chief


Walking into the Galley this week you may have noticed a table intricately set for one, missing only a guest.

The table is an example of a POW/MIA table: a place setting for one a table for all. The tradition dates back to after the Vietnam war. The table is always decorated in the same way and is full of symbols that all hold their own specific meaning.

  • The table is smaller than the others, symbolizing the frailty of one prisoner alone against his or her oppressors.
  • The white tablecloth draped over the table represents the purity of their response to our country’s call to arms.
  • The empty chair depicts an unknown face, representing no specific Soldier, Sailor, Airman, or Marine, but all who are not here with us.
  • The table itself is round to show that our concern for them is never ending.
  • The Bible represents faith in a higher power and the pledge to our country, founded as one nation under God.
  • The black napkin stands for the emptiness these warriors have left in the hearts of their families and friends. A Purple Heart medal can be pinned to the napkin.
  • The single red rose reminds us of their families and loved ones. The red ribbon represents the love of our country, which inspired them to answer the nation’s call.
  • The yellow candle and its yellow ribbon symbolize the everlasting hope for a joyous reunion with those yet accounted for.
  • The slices of lemon on the bread plate remind us of their bitter fate.
  • The salt upon the bread plate represent the tears of their families.
  • The wine glass, turned upside down, reminds us that our distinguished comrades cannot be with us to drink a toast or join in the festivities of the evening.

  This Friday, Sep 21 is National POW/MIA Recognition Day. When you walk by the table know that there is a meaning behind it. The table represents the men and women who have given their life for this country.