On Veteran's Day

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Old 11-12-2007, 05:39 PM
JohnZ's Avatar
JohnZ JohnZ is offline
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Default On Veteran's Day

There is a tradition in all branches of the military. It's called Commander's call, Officer's Mess, a Dining-in or Dining-Out. It's steeped in tradition and proper protocols befitting the branch of arms. Some protocols are not to be broken....others meant to be broken with great relish. Solemn at times, light hearted and hilarious at times as well. Many of you have never experienced this event and some of you have. For those of you that have had the honor, you will remember the empty table at the head of the room set for six. All attendees are aware of the significance of this but the Commander reminds us none-the-less.

The Ceremony and Narrative

"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 or lost comrades in arms.

Set for six, the empty places represent our fallen Americans or those still 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 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 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.

(The Honor Guard enters and in silence and 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 fallen and missing. 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 loved ones and friends of these Americans who keep the faith. 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 toast. The chairs are empty -- they are fallen or missing. Let us now raise our water glasses in a toast to honor them and those like us."

A country that forgets its fallen warriors will itself be forgotten. There are those who have sacrificed all for freedom and are forever silent. There are those now wearing the uniform who stand strong, proud and ready to do violence on our behalf. And, there are those who still walk among us who have suffered the sting of battle long ago and they suffer in silence...grizzled and grey, they are old warriors still capable of nipping at the heals of our enemies if needed.

To those who are gone....you are not forgotten and we honor you. To those who have served, we thank you and salute you. To those now serving...stay alert and stay alive....stay awake and stay safe...keep your weapons at the ready and watch your six. A grateful nation awaits your return.

Brooklyn, Long Island City and Oyster Bay NY
USAF Sheppard AFB, Witchita Falls, TX
Bellbrook, OH
Hollywood, FL
Woodstock, GA
The Villages, FL
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