You notice this small table here in a place of honor. It is set for one.

This table is the Elks way of symbolizing that members of the Armed Forces are missing from our midst. They are called POWs and MIAs.

They are unable to be with us at this time and so we remember them.

This table set for one is small – it symbolizes the frailty of one prisoner against their oppressors.

The tablecloth is white – it symbolizes the purity of their intentions to respond to our country’s call to arms.

The single rose displayed in the vase reminds of their families and loved ones who keep faith in their return.

The red ribbon tied so prominently around the vase is reminiscent of the red ribbons worn on the lapels and breasts of thousands who bear witness to their unyielding determination to demand a proper accounting of our missing heroes.

A slice of lemon is on the dinner plate – it reminds us of their bitter fate.

There is salt on the bread plate - is symbolic of the family’s tears, as they wait.

The glass is inverted – they cannot toast with us tonight.

The chair is empty – they are not here.

Remember them for it is we who depended on their might and aid, and relied on them, for surely, they have not forsaken us. They are the heroes.


Herein is an outline of the items required for a POW/MIA table:

  1. Small “café” table for only one or two people.
  2. White table cloth. Cotton usually looks the best.
  3. 2 Distinctive dishes (a flat dinner plate and a smaller bread plate)
  4. A silverware setting for elegant dining (use your best, THEY earned it).
  5. A glass vase
  6. A red rose (real for special events, silk for permanent display, in the vase.
  7. A red ribbon (tied at the base of the vase).
  8. Slice of lemon (real for special events, silk or plastic for permanent display, on the dinner plate
  9. A small pile of salt on the bread plate.
  10. A nice looking water glass (inverted).
  11. One chair ONLY (can be adorned with a POW/MIA draping available from many sources).
  12. Stands with red cordons, although not necessary, add an impressive touch of formality.

NOTE: Different color roses may be used, as follows:

RED: denotes passion and love. Most commonly used for the POW/MIA table.
YELLOW: denotes passing love (as in a romance, if the table is a personal one).
WHITE: denotes purity and new beginning.