Bamberg Germany - Table Set For Fallen Soldiers

Table set for fallen soldiers

Earlier this week I was meeting Bob at the dining facility on base (USAG Bamberg, Germany) and, realizing I was going to have to wait a while, I asked if I could sit in an empty chair sitting behind at a table located near the door. The soldier collecting the money at the facility said, “No, Maam, that table is reserved for our fallen soldiers who never made it back.” It was only then that I noticed the tableware and a large standing card that explained the significance of the setting.

Today was Thanksgiving and we again went to the dining hall to have a truly fantastic meal, surrounded by soldiers and officers in their Dress Blues. This time I took my camera and asked permission of the soldier collecting the money at the door to photograph the table. The staff sergeant in charge of the facility happened to walk up at that very moment and heard my request. He smiled and said, “Yes, of course, please do.”

It’s strange how things happen. As we moved down the cafeteria-style line, I asked permission to take a picture of the five handsome Commanding Officers all decked out in their finest uniforms, serving the food. They all looked excited and lined up, but my camera batteries died at that very moment. I never got the shot. The significance of which to me served as a reminder to keep me focused on the spirit of Thanksgiving, and what we, who live in peace and freedom, truly have to be thankful for.

I have done a little research and found out that at every Army military ball and dining facility, a table like this is set up.  At the formal events, a toast is made, reciting the material noted on the card, to which no one drinks, in honor of the fallen soldiers.

I copied the information from the card on the table that relates the significance of the items placed thereon. I hope you find it as poignant and moving as I did.

Table set in remembrance of fallen soldiers

This Table, It is Small – set for one, 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 mission brothers who keep faith while awaiting their return.

The Red Ribbon – tied prominently on the vase reminds us of the red ribbons worn on the lapels and brothers who are not among us tonight.

The Place Setting – single, alone no friends or family to dine with.

A slice of Lemon – 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 – reminiscent of the light of hope which lives in our hearts to light the way home: from their captors to the open arms of a grateful nation.

The Bible – represents the strength gained through faith to sustain those lost from us, from our country, founded as one nation under God.

Let us pray to the Supreme Commandant that all our brothers will soon again be among our ranks.

This piece, written by Pat, was originally posted on our website on November 26, 2009.

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