Many formal military events, typically dinners and banquets, begin with a prisoner-of-war and missing-in-action (POW/MIA) remembrance reading. The ceremony explains the meaning of a small table near the front of the room. The table is quite benign until you hear the words.
Set for one, the table “occupies a place of dignity” near the head table. Remember!
Most who have served in uniform are familiar with this ceremony and are moved by it no matter how many times it’s repeated. Especially interesting is watching the faces of those hearing the words for the first time. Regardless of the audience, there is always a tear shed somewhere in the room.
It’s safe to say that most Americans, even most service members, do not know a former prisoner of war or anyone missing in action, yet we continue to conduct this ceremony literally thousands of times annually all over the world. It reminds us that as a nation we have a very long memory and that our POW and MIA comrades-in-arms are truly not forgotten. This ceremony has become such a fixture during military gatherings that it’s as probable as the presentation of colors and the playing of the national anthem.