A Fallen Soldier Table is a wonderful way to honor the true meaning of Memorial Day. It is also known as The Missing Man Table or The Fallen Comrade Table. This tradition began out of concern for MIA/POW’s in Vietnam. Now it is set in many Military Dining halls on special occasions like Memorial Day, Veterans Day, Armed Forces Day, Military Balls, funerals and other special events.
One of my friends on Facebook asked what is the right way to set up a Fallen Soldier Table. My husband, a Vietnam era veteran helped with the protocol.
Fallen Soldier Table
The tradition started in the Vietnam era out of concern and respect for all of those soldiers who died and those who were MIA or POW’s. The tradition has now spread to other public and private places.
It helps us to give a deeper meaning to Memorial Day. After all it is not really about “Beer and BBQ”.
A lot of us are looking for ways to create deeper connection with life, our higher self, creation and each other.
There are several key components in setting up a table. To me, your intention in why you are doing what you are doing will triumph missing a step of the set up.
Setting The Table
The table is traditionally set for one, to show the fragility of the missing or fallen soldier.
In some larger events a larger table would be set for 6, a place setting for each of the Armed Branches and one place for civilians who might have died along side service members in combat. A round table would be used and this round table shows the lasting concern and love for our military loved ones.
The Fallen Soldier Table has a lot of symbolism
Of course in my work as a medium, I thrive on symbolism. You might not think you get it, but on a sub-conscious level you do understand it, too. Our minds are hard wired to “get” symbols. In fact, before our brain puts together an idea or thought, it has already decoded a lot of symbols.
For this special Memorial Day Table you will need a small table that you can tuck into a place where it will be visible but not in the way. You don’t want it to get bumped around.
You will also need a chair, a single plate, and bread plate, utensils, a salt shaker, a slice of lemon, a bud vase with one single red rose, a white taper candle, a white table cloth, white place mat and napkin. You will need a wine glass or champagne flute, and a red or yellow ribbon. All of these have meaning but if you don’t have some of the things, use strong intention and substitute what you do have.
The color white signifies the purity and innocence of each soldier’s motive to answer our country’s call to arms, the red represent their valor, and the blue stands for their vigilance and perseverance.
I add a small flag on mine. Some people will add a token of their religious belief.
A small Bible reminds us of the strength we gain from our faith, what ever that is. It also reminds us that our country is founded as one Nation under God.
If you have a loved one that has passed on duty, you can add a small picture of them. If you have a soldier who is MIA or POW, you would tie a yellow ribbon around your vase. You could set a small picture of them on the table too.
To set up your Fallen Soldier table, clear your mind and ask spirit to work with you in creating this special tribute in a meaningful way. Let your heart guide your actions!!
First of all set your small table up.
Add a clean, and neat white table cloth. Use a white place mat, and place your plates, white napkin and utensils on the place mat. Turn your wine glass upside down and on the right side of the set up. We do this as a way of acknowledging that these soldiers will not be able to lift a toast and celebrate with us.
Then place your simple candle holder with a white taper to your left side and directly across from it place your bud vase and rose. The burning candle represents our eternal hope of reuniting with our loved one. Either in this life time or another. The red rose speaks of the loss of blood and life to protect our freedoms. The rose is the highest vibrational flower, it also shows the devotion of the families and loved ones who continue to hold a space for their loved ones to come home, or to remember the loved ones who died in combat. Be sure to place your ribbon on the vase. The Red ribbon is for a soldier who was killed in action. The Yellow is for the soldier who is MIA or POW. If you have both of these losses in your family, you can use both ribbons.
You need to add the lemon wedge to the bread plate and sprinkle it with salt. Then set your salt shaker by the plate. The lemon represent the bitterness of the soldiers fate and loss of life. The salt is symbolic of the countless tears that are shed while waiting for a loved one to come home or cried after a loved one has passed in war.
Then you can set up your chair in front of the table. I dedicate my Altar/Table to ALL of the soldiers who have died during combat or in Service to our Country, and to any of our soldiers who are missing in action or prisoners of war. I also invite family and loved ones who are in spirit, that I know personally to be present and know that this in their honor.
Blessing The Table After It’s Prepared
Say a blessing after you prepare your table. Your heart felt prayers are powerful and will be felt far and wide. Know in your heart that your thoughts, blessings and prayers will be received by those who died protecting our country. Know your blessing can transcend space and time and touch the heart of soldiers who are now in jeopardy, missing in action or prisoners of war.
My table is set in honor of Sergeant 1st Class Barett W. McNabb. He was killed in action on June 12, 2012 in Khakrez, Afghanistan. May he rest in peace, knowing he served his country well and saved many lives the day he died. His ultimate giveaway is honored and appreciated. He is a hero in my family and many others.
I hope you enjoyed this article!
Below is the narrative of the Missing Man Table, usually read while the table is being set. It is a very powerful yet simple ceremony.
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 tonight. 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)