Saturday, November 12, 2016

Veterans Day - NOVA This Week (November 12, 2016)

Observations from my weekly wanderings, usually in Northern Virginia (NOVA).

Back in May, for Memorial Day, I posted NOVA This Week about the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day – because, we often think about them as very similar, yet there are distinct.

(Once again a disclaimer: This applies to the U.S. holidays. It is a bit different in the Commonwealth of Nations. If you are interested in THAT difference, please click here.)

In the U.S. Memorial Day is a National Holiday to honor those who have DIED while serving in the Armed Forces. Veterans Day is a National Holiday to honor those who SERVED in the Armed Forces. It of course includes all those we honor on Memorial Day, but it also includes those who served without making the supreme sacrifice.

Occasionally, people thank me for my service on Memorial Day, and although – that’s nice – it isn’t truly appropriate, because I’m still alive.

But Veterans Day – Yeah that’s me. I took full advantage. free breakfast at Denny’s, free lunch at Applebee’s, and free dinner at Olive Garden. Thank you to these corporations for the gesture, which is MUCH more meaningful to me than the free meal.

Olive Garden went a little above and beyond though, and I know there are others that do this same thing. Near the entrance of Olive Garden there was an empty table, set for one. This table is a military tradition. It is always displayed at certain military ceremonies: service birthdays, balls, Veterans and Memorial Day services, and other dining ceremonies. It is also often a permanent display in many dining halls. There are certain specific items always present at this setting.



Table Ceremony Script - Read during modern military remembrance events paying honors to POW/MIA. Generally the table is being set while the script is read.

The table that stands before you is a place of honor. In setting this table, we acknowledge those missing from our celebration today. And we remember them. (ring bell) The table is small, and set for one -- Symbolizing the vulnerability of a lone prisoner against his captors. Remember! (ring bell) The tablecloth is white -- Symbolizing purity of intention in responding to the nation's call to arms. Remember! (ring bell) The chair is empty, for they are not here. Remember! (ring bell) The wine glass is inverted -- They cannot toast with us this night. Remember! (ring bell) The slices of lemon -- Reminding us of their bitter suffering. Remember! (ring bell) The grains of salt -- Representing the countless tears of the families. Remember! (ring bell) The single red rose -- Reminding us of loved ones who keep the faith awaiting their return. Remember! (ring bell) The burning candle and yellow ribbon -- Symbolizing everlasting hope of a reunion with the missing. Remember! (ring bell) Remember! -- All who have served alongside them; we who have donned the same proud uniform, being sworn to the same faith and allegiance -- We will never forget their sacrifice. Remember! (ring bell) Remember! -- Until the day they return home, or find eternal peace, we will remember. (ring bell)

The Bible is not always present, and not part of the official script. It is usually present though.

There is a similar table sometimes displayed with SIX empty chairs, to represent the fallen, but not POW/MIA, from all six services: Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, and Civilian.



Finally, a quotation: Honor also to those who daring to die, survived

From the Devil’s Brigade Memorial. 

The Devil’s Brigade, officially designated the 1st Special Service Force, was a Combined American-Canadian commando unit from WWII. All American and Canadian Special Operations Forces trace their heritage to this unit.



(There's a pretty decent movie titled The Devil's Brigade. You should check it out.)

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