By Ms. Andricka Thomas (CECOM)November 19, 2007
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - "Like every Soldier, I wish this would be the last POW/MIA table ceremony in the history of our country," said Command Sgt. Maj. Hector Marin. "We would all love to see a final accounting and a final place of honor for every fallen hero."
Marin, command sergeant major of the U.S. Army Research Development and Engineering Command, celebrated Veteran's Day with the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5337 in Abingdon, Md., at a POW/MIA re-dedication ceremony Nov. 12.
A culmination of a variety of Veteran's Day activities, VFW Post 5337 honored Prisoner's of War and Soldiers named as 'Missing in Action' at a POW/MIA table ceremony.
At the ceremony, active-duty Soldiers representing RDECOM set the table, piece by piece, to honor Soldiers not with us, fallen or missing. The table was small, symbolizing the frailty of one prisoner against his oppressors.
Leola Bogdan, Auxiliary Americanism chairperson, explained each piece of the table and its significance.
"The table cloth is white, symbolizing the purity of their [Soldiers] intentions to respond to their country's call to arms," said Bogdan. A red rose was placed in a vase to remind people of the families and loved one's who are awaiting their Soldier's return. The red ribbon on the vase represents all those who demand a proper accounting for our missing.
The table is set with a piece of lemon on the bread plate to remind those of their bitter fate, and salt for the tears of their family members as they wait.
"The glass is inverted, as they cannot toast with us tonight and the chair is empty because they are not here," said Bogdan. During this ceremony, attendees were silent to reflect on their lost brothers.
VFW representatives were excited to have RDECOM participation in the ceremony.
"It's fantastic that our active-duty Soldiers take the time out to remember and participate in our honoring Veteran's Day," said 1st Sgt. (ret.) Douglas MacArthur, VFW 5337 Post commander.
The VFW participates in a variety of activities to support Soldiers, at home and abroad including distributing care packages, providing spousal support for things such as car repair or odd jobs, and scholarship programs for spouses and active-duty military members.
"We are close to the Edgewood area of APG [Aberdeen Proving Ground]," said Linda MacArthur, VFW 5337 Ladies Auxiliary president. "It means a lot to reach out and help our Soldiers."