Thursday, October 19, 2023

Day of Remembrance marked by trustees

A special display was placed at the front of the meeting room in Sumpter Township Hall just prior to the Sept. 26 meeting of the board of trustees. 

The Missing Man Table or Fallen Comrade Table was set to remind the public of service members who remain missing and those labeled as prisoners of war. Sumpter Township Manager Anthony Burdick and Vietnam veteran LeRoy Paige spoke to the board members and the public about the special remembrance celebration established to honor both Prisoners of War (POW) and Missing In Action (MIA). National POW/MIA Recognition Day has been established as the third Friday of every September to remember the 81,409 servicemembers who remain unaccounted for. The Missing Man table is a symbol of those service members who have not returned.

Burdick, a veteran of the Korean War, and Paige, a township resident, began a short Day of Remembrance ceremony prior to the scheduled board workshop session. Veterans in the audience introduced themselves while former township treasurer and current Planning Commissioner Vincent Warren presented a flag with the POW/MIA logo imprinted to the township. Warren made a formal request of the board members to raise the specialized flag on the Day of Remembrance next year. 

Burdick explained that the National Day of Remembrance was initiated by servicemen during the Vietnam War. When the war ended, the tradition continued across the nation. Burdick explained the special significance of each item on the table.

The display in the meeting room included a small round table covered with a white cloth symbolizing the pure intention with which the comrades honored served. The table was set for just one person, reflecting the vulnerability of one prisoner against his enemy.  A single rose in a vase sat on the table symbolizing the blood that has been shed. The rose also represents the families and loved ones that have been left behind and the faith they uphold that their loved one will one day return. In addition, a slice of lemon was placed on a bread plate as a reminder of their bitter fate while a pinch of salt on the plate symbolizes the tears that have been shed by their families as they quietly wait.

 A glass on the table was inverted to denote their inability to be with and toast with friends and families while a yellow ribbon on the table symbolizes the continued uncertainty of the fate of the POW/MIA men and women along with hope for their return and determination to account for them and bring them home. 

The displays often include a lighted candle to reflect hope for the return of the lost, dead or alive. 

The Bible on the table is there to represent the strength gained through faith to sustain families. 

The empty chair symbolizes those missing.

Board members unanimously voted to display the flag next year.

“We will not forget,” Burdick said.