MIDDLEBURG, Fla. – Middleburg's American Legion Post No. 250 and students at Lakeside Junior High took part in a table-setting ceremony Thursday to remember prisoners of war and those who are missing in action.
"Without knowing their history, they have no pride in it, and this is a perfect way of showing them,” said Danny Tarrant, a retired Navy corpsman.
Tarrant, a retired Clay County teacher, is a member of the American Legion Riders and hopes more people will appreciate veterans and remember them.
To honor those commonly called POWs or MIAs, the American Legion and the Lakeside students set a table to symbolize the military members who are “missing in our midst.”
The tradition of setting a separate table in honor of prisoners of war and missing comrades has been in place since the end of the Vietnam War. The manner in which the table is decorated is full of special symbols to help those who see it remember their brothers and sisters in arms.
The POW/MIA table is smaller than the others, symbolizing the frailty of one prisoner alone against his or her oppressors. The table is separate from others and can be set for one to four place settings to represent each service participating in the event.
Several items were placed on the table. A white tablecloth represented the purity of the service members' response to America's call to arms.
And a yellow candle with a ribbon symbolized the everlasting hope for the return of those veterans.
"It is always emotional,” Tarrant said. “We never ever get used to the idea of something like this."
After the table was set, veterans answered questions from students, shining a new light on those fighting for our country.
"I feel sad for all the people who had to go through that and had family members lost somewhere,” seventh-grader Janae Jordan said.
"I also learned that you just don't take what they do for granted,” seventh-grader Logan Wilson said.
The entire table setting from the POW/MIA ceremony will remain inside the Lakeside Junior High library as a memorial so students can honor America's veterans.
“I kept thinking that it was a nice way to appreciate what the veterans have done for us,” seventh-grader Mayra Tirado said. "While we're going through small situations everyday, they're doing these big actions that impact our whole world."