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Veterans make plans for Missing Men table

Members of the Mineral Area Memorial VFW Post 5741 Auxiliary in Leadington need a little help from some friends — or family — of veterans from several branches of the military.

When they set up their Missing Men table this year at the POW/MIA breakfast, the members hope to have more than a hat from several branches of the military at each table. They would like to have entire uniforms.

“It would be great to have them donated, but if people only want to lend them to us, that would be great, too,” Commander Joe Briley said.

The breakfast is 9 a.m. Sept. 22 at the post, 600 Woodlawn Drive in Leadington.

The Missing Man table, which is unoccupied but set for six, symbolizes Americans who were or are missing from each of the five services – Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard – as well as civilians. The table sometimes is set for fewer, but the Leadington VFW plans to have six empty seats at its table this year. Although there are slightly different versions of the symbolism at the table, Briley plans to use the text provided on the National League of Families of American Prisoners and Missing in Southeast Asia Web site,

Everything at the table has a meaning. The table is round to show everlasting concern over the missing. The tablecloth is white to symbolize the purity of their motives when servicemen and servicewomen answer the call to duty.

A single red rose is a reminder of the lives of these men and women, as well as their loved ones and friends who keep the faith while seeking answers. A red ribbon symbolizes the continued determination to account for the missing.

The table includes a slice of lemon that reminds people of the bitter fate of those captured and missing in a foreign land. A pinch of salt symbolizes the tears of the missing and their families who long for answers after decades of uncertainty. And the Bible represents the strength gained through faith in this country, founded as one nation under God, to sustain those who were lost.

The glass at each place setting is inverted to symbolize the missing people’s inability to share the toast. The chairs are left empty.

Typically, there is a military dress cap at each place to symbolize each of the military branches. Briley said members of the Leadington VFW want to include uniforms. However, they need some caps and they have no uniforms.

Briley hopes veterans or their families in the area are willing to donate uniforms from the different branches to place at the table.

Anyone who would like to donate or lend a uniform to the VFW for the Missing Man table should contact Briley at 573-431-6141.


Paula Barr is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-431-2010, ext. 172 or at

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