POW/MIA Remembrance Service
Those who have served, and those currently serving in the uniformed services of the United States, are ever mindful that the sweetness of enduring peace has always been tainted by the bitterness of personal sacrifice. We are compelled to never forget that while we enjoy our daily pleasures, there are others who have endured and may still be enduring the agonies of pain, deprivation and imprisonment.
We call your attention to the small table which occupies a place of dignity and honor. It is set for one, symbolizing the fact that members of our armed forces are missing from our ranks. They are referred to as POWs and MIAs.
They are unable to be with their loved ones and families, so we join together to pay humble tribute to them, and to bear witness to their continued absence. All Americans should never forget the brave men and women who answered our Nation's call and served the cause of freedom in a very special way.
- The table is small and round -- to show our everlasting concern for our missing men and women, and to symbolize the frailty of one prisoner, alone against his or her suppressors.
- The tablecloth is white, symbolic of the purity of their motives when answering the call to duty.
- The single red rose, displayed in a vase, reminds us of the life of each of the missing, and the loved one and friends of these Americans who keep the faith awaiting answers.
- The red ribbon on the vase represent the red ribbons worn on the lapels of the thousands who demand, with unyielding determination, a proper account of our comrades who are not among us.
- The yellow ribbon on the vase represents the symbol symbol of our continued determination to account for our missing.
- The slice of lemon on the bread plate is to remind us of the bitter fate of those captured and missing in a foreign land.
- A pinch of salt symbolizes the tears endured by those missing and their families who seek answers.
- The Bible represents the strength gained through our faith to sustain those lost from our country, founded as one nation under God.
- The glass is inverted -- to symbolized their inability to be with us here today.
- The candle is reminiscent of the light of hope, which lives in our hearts to illuminate their way home, away from their captors, to the open arms of a grateful nation.
- The chair is empty -- They Are Missing.
In days past, two bells (toll of two bells) marked the end of the routine day aboard ship. It was time for Tattoo, and soon, Taps would sound throughout the ship. Certainly, this is a most appropriate time to Honor our departed shipmates. Ladies and Gentlemen would you please bow your heads. The toll of the ship's bell reminds us of the reverence we owe to our departed shipmates; (toll of two bells) To those who guard the Honor of our Country . . . upon the sea . . . in the air . . . and on foreign soil. (toll of two bells) Let it be a reminder of the faith they confide in us; (toll of two bells) Let us who gather here not forget our obligation, and in silence, breathe a prayer for our absent shipmates. (toll of two bells) Let us offer a silent prayer for our departed shipmates. (10 second pause) This moment of reverence we dedicate to the memory of our shipmates who have gone before us. (toll of two bells)
Folding of the Flag
For more than 200 years, the American Flag has been a symbol of our nation's unity, as well as a source of pride and inspiration for millions of people around the globe. By displaying the flag and giving it the distinctive fold, we show respect to the flag and express our gratitude to those who have fought and continued to fight, to preserve and protect our freedom.
- The first fold is for Paul Revere, and the patriots who died in the Revolutionary War to purchase America's freedom from England.
- The second fold is for those who died in the War of 1812, called by some the Second War of Independence, after which American independence was assured.
- The third fold is for the men who gave their lives in the Mexican-American War that extended America's borders from the Rio Grande to the Pacific.
- The fourth fold is for brothers who fought brothers in the Civil War, American's bloodiest, at the end of which the Union was saved.
- The fifth fold is for the Spanish-American War when the United States was first recognized as a world power.
- The sixth fold is for the First World War, when Americans died in the fields for Europe, a was that was hoped would end all wars.
- The seventh fold is for World War II, which covered the whole globe, and when Americans sacrificed their lives again to free Europe and Asia from totalitarianism.
- The eighth fold is for the Korean War, America's forgotten war, where for over two years Americans fought to keep South Korea free and blunt communist expansion.
- The ninth fold is for the Vietnam War, the longest war that the United States fought and the only one that didn't result in a clear victory.
10. The tenth fold is for Desert Storm the last war of the 20th century when Kuwait was freed from Iraqi occupation.
11. The eleventh fold is for the war on terror, and the patriots of the 21st century, who responded to the attack on America, September 11, 2001, with overwhelming force; bringing justice to the perpetrators and
freedom to the nations that produced them.
12. The twelfth fold is for the millions of United States Citizens, brave men and women, who have served their nation proudly, putting their lives in peril in the defense their beloved country, America; "One Nation Under God!"
13. The thirteenth fold is for freedom, the burning passion of every American heart, and the dream of all of the world's people.
(The Flag is placed on the POW/MIA table while the following is read)
The American Flag reminds us that many of our comrades in arms may never return and they have paid the supreme sacrifice to ensure our freedom. Let us remember and never forget their sacrifice. May God forever watch over them and protect them and their families.
Ladies and Gentlemen, in a moment, we will ask all who are able to please rise and place your right hand over your heart, for a moment of silence, and the rendering of honors. Gentlemen are asked to please remove their hats. Active duty and Veterans may render a hand salute. At the conclusion of taps, please be seated. Thank You. Ladies and Gentlemen, please rise.
(Pause for a moment of silence)
(Volleys and Taps)
Ladies and Gentlemen, please be seated. This concludes the service for our POWs/MIAs.
Note from Webmaster and Historian, it was brought to my attention that the following is not historically correct. The following while it makes a great story and is often told, it is more of a fireside tale, many of which are often told in our military history.
If any of you have ever attend a military funeral in which taps was played.
Reportedly, it all began in 1862 during the American Civil War, when Union Army Captain Robert Ellicombe was with his men near Harrison's Landing in Virginia . The Confederate Army was on the other side of the narrow strip of land.
During the night, Captain Ellicombe heard the moans of a soldier who lay severely wounded on the field Not knowing if it was a Union or Confederate soldier, the Captain decided to risk his life and bring the stricken man back for medical attention. Crawling on his stomach through the gunfire, the Captain reached the stricken soldier and began pulling him toward his encampment.
When the Captain finally reached his own lines, he discovered it was actually a Confederate soldier, but the soldier was dead.
The Captain lit a lantern and suddenly caught his breath and went numb with shock. In the dim light, he saw the face of the soldier. It was his own son. The boy had been studying music in the South when the war broke out. Without telling his father, the boy enlisted in the Confederate Army.
The following morning, heartbroken, the father asked permission of his superiors to give his son a full military burial, despite his enemy status. His request was only partially granted.
The Captain had asked if he could have a group of Army band members play a funeral dirge for his son at the funeral.
The request was turned down since the soldier was a Confederate.
But, out of respect for the father, they did say they could give him only one musician.
The Captain chose a bugler. He asked the bugler to play a series of musical notes he had found on a piece of paper in the pocket of the dead youth's uniform.
This wish was granted.
The haunting melody, we now know as 'Taps' used at military funerals was born.
The words are: Day is done. Gone the sun. From the lakes From the hills. From the sky. All is well. Safely rest. God is nigh. Fading light. Dims the sight. And a star. Gems the sky. Gleaming bright. From afar. Drawing nigh. Falls the night. Thanks and praise. For our days. Neath the sun Neath the stars. Neath the sky As we go. This we know. God is nigh
Remember Those Lost and Harmed While Serving Their Country.
Also Remember Those Who Have Served And Returned; and for those presently serving in the Armed Forces.