THE MISSING MAN TABLE & CEREMONY
Missing Man Ceremony
The Missing Man Ceremony is a dignified and solemn moment in
many formal dinners and other occasions. There have been many
different narratives written for the ceremony, but the symbolism is quiteconstant.
The Missing Man Ceremony usually follows the "Posting of the Colors"
and the "National Anthem in the order of the program.
As you entered the dining area, you may have noticed a table at the
front, raised to call your attention to its purpose -- it is reserved to honor
our missing loved comrades.
Set for six, the empty places represent our men 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.
Some here today/tonight were very young when the Vietnam War
began; however, all Americans should never forget our brave men and
women who answered our nation's call and served the cause of
freedom in a special way.
As the Honor Guard places one of the five service covers or a civilian
cap on each empty plate, I would like to ask you to consider their
sacrifices, followed by a moment of silent prayer.
(In silence or with dignified, reverent music as background, the Honor
Guard moves into position around the table and simultaneously places
one of the service covers, of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force
and Coast Guard, or a civilian hat, on each empty dinner plate at each
table setting. The Honor Guard then departs.)
Please be seated...............I would like to explain the meaning of the items on
this special table.
The table is round - to show our everlasting concern for our men still
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 their loved ones and friends who keep the faith,
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 glass is inverted - to symbolize their inability to share this
The chairs are empty - they are missing.
Let us now raise our water glasses in a toast to honor America's
POW/MIA's and to the success of our efforts to account for them.
A small, round bistro table
Single place setting, preferably all white
Wine glass - inverted
Slice of lemon on bread plate with a pile of spilled salt
Small bud vase with a single stem red rose
RED ribbon tied around the vase
Candle - lit