During the Academies Ball I witnessed something that I had never seen before, the POW/MIA Table, a place setting for one, a table for all. If you don’t know about this, let me tell you all about it.

I thought it was something quite impressive so I wanted to share it. The tradition of setting a separate table in honor of our 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 us remember our brothers and sisters in arms. The POW/MIA table is separate from the others and can be set for one to four place settings to represent each service participating in the event. According to the history of the table, the table is smaller than the others, symbolizing the frailty of one prisoner alone against his or her oppressors. The white tablecloth draped over the table represents the purity of their response to our country’s call to arms. The empty chair depicts an unknown face, representing no specific solider, sailor, airman or marine, but all who are not here with us. The round table shows that our concern for them is never-ending. The bible on the table represents faith in a higher power and the pledge to our country, founded as one nation under God. The black napkin stands for the emptiness these warriors have left in the hearts of their families and friends. A Purple Heart medal can be pinned to the napkin. The single red rose reminds us of their families and loved ones. The red ribbon represents the love of our country, which inspired them to answer the nation’s call. The yellow candle and its ribbon symbolize the everlasting hope for a joyous reunion with those yet accounted for. The slices of lemon on the bread plate remind us of their bitter fate. The salt upon the bread plate represents the tears of the families. The inverted wine glass reminds us that our distinguished comrades cannot be with us to drink a toast or join in the festivities of the evening.

The POW/MIA presentation was very touching and was presented by the Cadet Color Guard of the Allegheny County Composite Squadron 602, Pennsylvania Wing, and Civil Air Patrol. I enjoyed the details of this ball and had a great time. I am so grateful to have a job that allows me to see and learn new things. Thank you to the Macklins for reaching out and asking me to cover this event for the New Pittsburgh Courier.

It’s time for another book giveaway. This looks like a great book, it is called “Harlem,” The Four-Hundred Year History from Dutch Village to Capital of Black America by Jonathan Gill. The rules are very simple; all you have to do is email me at the address below and in the subject line please say that you want to win “Harlem.” I will then mail the book to the first person that sends the email.

(Email Debbie at


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