This is a time to remember and reflect on the cost of freedom. We must never forget the untold sacrifices made by valiant soldiers who went to war and suffered cruel imprisonment by the enemies or still remain missing with their fates unknown.
Let us take the time today to honor the valor of America’s POWs and MIAs and give continuing support to their families and loves ones.
MISSING MAN TABLE & HONORS CEREMONY
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 ones [or missing comrades in arms, for veterans].
Set for six, the empty places represent Americans still [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] in this room were very young when they were sent into combat; however, all Americans should never forget the brave men and women who answered our nation's call [to serve] and served the cause of freedom in a special way.
I would like to ask you to stand, and remain standing for a moment of silent prayer, as the Honor Guard places the five service covers and a civilian cap on each empty plate.
(In silence or with dignified, quiet music as background, the Honor Guard moves into position around the table and simultaneously places the covers of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard, and a civilian hat, on the 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 missing men.
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 the[ir] loved ones and friends of these Americans who keep the faith, awaiting answers.
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 evening's [morning's/day's] toast.
The chairs are empty -- they are missing.
Let us now raise our water glasses in a toast to honor America's POW/MIAs and to the success of our efforts to account for them.
NATIONAL LEAGUE OF FAMILIES
OF AMERICAN PRISONERS AND MISSING IN SOUTHEAST ASIA
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
September 16, 2010
Presidential Proclamation--National POW/MIA Recognition Day
"Until every story ends" is a solemn promise to those who wear the uniform of the United States that they will never be left behind or forgotten. On National POW/MIA Recognition Day, we pay tribute to the American men and women who never returned home from combat, to those who faced unthinkable suffering as prisoners of war in distant lands, and to all servicemembers who have defended American lives and liberties with unwavering devotion. As a grateful Nation, we can never repay the profound debt to our heroes, and we will not rest until we have accounted for the missing members of our Armed Forces.
We demonstrate our deep gratitude and admiration for our brave patriots not in words alone, but in our actions to bring them home. Each year, specialists in our Department of Defense scour foreign battlefields and burial sites, interview witnesses, and search national and international archives for information about those missing from the Vietnam War, Korean War, Cold War, World War II, and other conflicts. Their work will not be complete, nor our commitment fulfilled, until the families of those taken or missing in action can rest knowing the fate of their loved ones.
On September 17, 2010, the stark black and white flag honoring America's prisoners of war and those missing in action will be flown over the White House; the United States Capitol; the Departments of State, Defense, and Veterans Affairs; the Selective Service System Headquarters; the World War II Memorial; the Korean War Veterans Memorial; the Vietnam Veterans Memorial; United States post offices; national cemeteries; and other locations across our country. It is a powerful reminder that our Nation will never cease in our task to recover, remember, and honor the courageous men and women who have served and sacrificed so much for each of us.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim September 17, 2010, as National POW/MIA Recognition Day. I urge all Americans to observe this day of honor and remembrance with appropriate ceremonies and activities.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this sixteenth day of September, in the year of our Lord two thousand ten, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fifth.