Let’s start over- a lesson on the Missing Man Table and respect in general

So my hometown kind of has a bad rep- Fayettenam, The Ville (or Da Ville, if you prefer), Fayetteville is known for it’s “go go dancers and car lots” as my one LCAS supervisor used to say.  (“Go Go dancers” is putting it mildly.)

Over the past few years, there has been a small group of people trying to change the overall look and reputation of Fayetteville.  From the new slogan- History, Heroes and a Hometown Feeling  to a downtown you can actually walk around (if you can find free parking 😉 ) to enjoy the great shops and restaurants, Fayetteville is really improving.  Our patriotism really shows too.   Fayetteville has really outdone themselves this time, as Veterans Day approaches, over 50 local businesses have decided to set up a Missing Man Table to honor the fallen,  and the missing.  Those lost in action, those that still might be imprisoned, those that their status is unknown.   They are important and shouldn’t be forgotten, and business owners are going out of their way to make sure those MIA are not forgotten this coming Veterans Day.

So please imagine my shock this past Friday (yesterday) when this took place during my training session.  Satan’s sister, I mean, my trainer, was talking to me about a local business while putting me through my torture workout.

Trainer: Do you know {name of business redacted}?

Me: (barely able to breathe) Yes.

Trainer: Well she {owner} set up a missing man table, and she posted on Facebook yesterday that some moms and their kids came in yesterday and the kids were playing on the table.  And they were letting them!  I don’t blame the kids, I blame the moms.

Me: (dying) pant, pant, pant.  That’s bad parenting.  They need to learn respect.

Now before you jump all over me for the bad parenting comment, I want to say 1) I love kids.  2) I understand that a 2, 3 , 4, 5, year old is NOT going to understand the significance of a Missing Man table, or gravesite, or a religious relic, or anything that others hold with a sense of reverence or honor.  3) I’m fine and survived the workout, thanks so much for asking. My shoulders ARE burning as I type this.

Yes, I am not a parent.  But I do have a wonderful just turned one nephew, a just turned one niece and a 5 year old niece.  Do they act out?  You better believe they do.  They are kids.  We re-direct them.  Because that’s what parents (or aunts) do.  So your kid wants to play on the empty table at a coffee house?   I guess that’s ok, assuming its safe.  Just make sure it’s not the Missing Man table.

I get it, the Missing Man table is cool looking.  It has hats, and a rose, and some other nifty things on it.  But each one of those things has a reason for it’s placement on the table.   Grab your kid, take them to another table, and try to fascinate them with Splenda packets, an empty coffee cup, your phone (not my usual endorsement, but in this case, yes).  If all else fails get your coffee to go, or chat with your friends outside.  Just please don’t disrespect the Missing Man Table.

Just in case those moms didn’t know, here is the significance of the Missing Man Table.

The Missing Man Table, also known as the Fallen Comrade Table, is a place of honor, set up in military dining facilities of the U.S. armed forces and during occasions such as service branch birthday balls, in memory of fallen, missing, or imprisoned military service-members The table serves as the focal point of ceremonial remembrance, originally growing out of US concern of the Vietnam War POW/MIA issue.

  • Table: set for one, is small, symbolizing the frailty of one isolated prisoner. The table is usually set close to, or within sight of, the entrance to the dining room. For large events of the Missing Man Table is set for six places: members of the five armed services (Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard) and a sixth place setting reminiscent of the civilians who died during service alongside the armed forces or missing during armed conflict. Table is round to represent everlasting concern on the part of the survivors for their missing loved ones.
  • Tablecloth is white, symbolic of the purity of their intentions to respond to their country’s call to arms.
  • Single red rose in the vase, signifies the blood that many 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 (yellow ribbon for Air Force ceremonies) represents the love of our country, which inspired them to answer the nation’s call.
  • Slice of lemon on the bread plate: represents the bitter fate of the missing.
  • Salt sprinkled on the bread plate: symbolic of the countless fallen tears of families as they wait.
  • Inverted glass: represents the fact that the missing and fallen cannot partake.
  • The Bible represents the strength gained through faith to sustain those lost from our country, founded as one nation under God. (The Bible has been removed from several displays at federal facilities due to pressure from the Military Religious Freedom Foundation)
  • Lit candle: reminiscent of the light of hope which lives in our hearts to illuminate their way home, away from their captors, to the open arms of a grateful nation.
  • Empty chair: the missing and fallen aren’t present.

(Source Wikipedia)


1 Comment

  1. Rebecca

    I know I’ve only been a mom for a month but I’ve been an Army wife for 7 years and am Army sister for 17 (!!!!) years. I’ve seen many a Missing Man Table and I understand and respect it. Depending on the age of my child, I would take them off the table and explain the significance of each item to them so they can understand and learn to respect the table too.


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