Area restaurants are encouraged to set up a table honoring Americas prisoners of war and missing in action ahead of National POW/MIA Recognition Day on Sept. 21. Everything on the table including the table itself holds meaning. (File photo by Randy Roberts)

By BRENNA GRITEMAN

LIFE EDITOR

Bob Driftmyer wants to reserve a table for one at as many area restaurants as will have him, not for himself but for his brothers and sisters in uniform who did not return from service.

Restaurants can observe National Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Recognition Day by setting up a small table for one in a prominent area of the dining room. The table is set with an assortment of items that represent the missing, serving as a public reminder of the 1,800-plus military members who are considered missing or prisoners of war. Restaurants are encouraged to maintain the display from Sept. 16-21 or, at the least, on Sept. 21, the national day of awareness.

Driftmyer, commander of Findlay AMVETS Post 21, says an officer or member of the post is available to come to the restaurant on the date of the owner’s choosing to give a brief presentation on the significance of the table. A “reserved” sign and a list stating the table’s significance will also be provided.

“Everything on that table, including the table itself, has a meaning,” Driftmyer says.

Items required for the display — and their significance — are as follows:

1 small, round table, symbolizing the frailty of one prisoner against his or her oppressors

1 white tablecloth, symbolizing the purity of the intentions to respond to our country’s call to arms

1 bud vase holding 1 red rose (live or artificial), signifying the blood shed in sacrifice to ensure the freedom of the United States of America

1 yellow or black ribbon tied around the vase, representing those who demand a proper accounting for their missing comrades

1 bread plate holding a slice of lemon, reminding patrons of the MIA/POW’s sour fate

1 teaspoon of table salt, symbolizing the family’s tears as they wait for their loved one’s return

1 inverted drinking glass, representing the soldier’s inability to toast with us

1 white candle with holder, signifying the light of hope in our hearts to light their way back home

1 table knife, spoon and fork in their usual place setting

1 empty chair, signifying their absence

1 small American flag in a stand

“The beauty of this is, all the things required for this the restaurants have,” Driftmyer says, adding that American flags can be provided by the post if needed. “All they have to do is furnish the table.”

The AMVETS will host a formal MIA/POW ceremony at the post, 423 Trenton Ave., at about 5 p.m. Sept. 21. Those leading the “very touching ceremony” will be in full uniform, Driftmyer says.

The post hosted the table program locally about five years ago with 30 restaurants participating. He’s hoping even more will commit this year.

“It’s just a good thing,” he says.

To sign up or for more details, contact Driftmyer at 419-306-5350.

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Twitter: @BrennaGriteman

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