“So long as there are veterans, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks will never forget them.”
This National Foundation pledge was brought to life during solemn moments of the Sun City Elks No. 2559 Missing Man Table ceremony in September, during the POW/MIA National Recognition Day conducted by officers and past exalted rulers of the Sun City lodge.
While there are many different narratives written, the symbolism is quite constant across the country. There is a table set with a white tablecloth, a single candle, around which is tied a yellow ribbon, an inverted glass and a single rose in a vase. There is a single chair. Set at the table is a plate containing a slice of lemon and a small amount of salt. The slice of lemon is reminiscent of loved ones’ bitter fate, captured and missing in a foreign land. A pinch of salt symbolizes the tears of the families and all who long for answers after decades of uncertainty. The lighted candle reflects the hope for the missings’ return, alive or dead.
To many, there is nothing more poignant than witnessing the empty chair sitting at a POW/MIA table with its significance for every displayed feature of this ceremony. Three hundred Friday evening diners witnessed the Missing Man Table ritual performed at the Elks Lodge by its officers. Participants commented it had created a memorable event, bringing more than just a single emotion. Among the attendees were the Elks honored guests, members of the veterans support organization, USVets.
The nation’s observance of the National POW/MIA Remembrance Day annual recognition is a recommitment of the country for full accountability to the families of more than 226,080 veterans captured or still missing from United States participated wars. With its annual POW/MIA ritual and in flying the POW/MIA flag symbolizing “You are Not Forgotten,” Sun City Elks No. 2559 honors the many sacrifices they will forever remember.