Missing Man Table Ceremony


Master of Ceremonies

“Before we begin our festivities this evening, I would like to recognize our POWs/MIAs by calling your attention to this small table which occupies a place of honor near the head table.

It is set for one, symbolizing the fact that members of our armed forces are missing from our ranks. They are referred to as POWs/MIAs; we call them brothers. They are unable to be with their loved ones and families tonight, so we join with them in this humble tribute.

This table, set for one, is small— symbolizing the frailty of one prisoner alone against his oppressors. The table cloth is white, symbolizing the purity of their intentions to respond to their country’s call to arms.

The single rose displayed in the vase reminds us of the families and friends of our missing brothers who keep faith while awaiting their return.

The red ribbon tied prominently on the vase reminds us of the brothers who are not among us tonight.

A slice of lemon on the plate reminds us of their bitter fate. Salt sprinkled on the plate reminds us of the countless fallen tears of families as they wait. The glass is inverted—they cannot toast with us this night. The chair is empty—they are not here.

The candle is reminiscent of the light of hope which lives in our hearts to light the way home, away from their captors to the open arms of a grateful nation.

Let us now rise and raise our glasses in a toast to honor America’s POW/MIAs and to the success of our efforts to account for them.”

Alternate Ceremony Set For Six

Master of Ceremonies

“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 [our men] 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 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.”

Honor Guard

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.

Master of Ceremonies

“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 loved ones and friends of these Americans who keep the faith, awaiting answers.

The vase is tied with a red ribbon, a 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 rise and raise our glasses in a silent toast to honor America’s POW/MIAs and to the success of our efforts to account for them.”