By Gretchen Teske, Mt. Pleasant News
A small crowd gathered in the New London VFW Post 7641 to preserve a place for those who have yet to come home. A missing man table was set up and dedicated in honor of all veterans who are prisoners of war or missing in action that they always be remembered.
?It means a lot because we have people we lost that didn?t come back,? said Commander Larry Meagher. ?This gives somebody something to look at. In other words, it gives them hope,? he explained to the crowd.
Meagher said that every piece on the table had a meaning and everything but the candle was donated by a member of the VFW. He said that the table itself was vintage to represent how things can stand the test of time. On top of it lay a white tablecloth, hand-sewn by a member, to represent the purity of motives. A single red rose in a vase was placed in the corner as a reminder of the lives of the missing and a red ribbon was tied around it to represent the continued determination to account for the missing.
A bread plate with a lemon slice sat in the middle of the table to represent the bitter faith of those captured and missing while the pinch of salt next to it represents the tears endured by those missing and their families who seek answers. Next to the plate was an upside-down glass to represent their inability to share in a toast and a Bible next to that to represent the strength gained through faith to sustain for those lost.
A single candle rests at the end of the table to represent that a single light can lead them home. Behind the table is an empty chair with a black POW/MIA flag draped over it to represent their absence and that they will always have a place to come to when they return home.
Former State Commander Gary Marquardt saluted the table before shaking Meagher?s hand. Marquardt drove down from Wapello to see the table and is always glad to hear of one being dedicated. ?It?s just important that we remember our dead because they?re still there,? he said. ?That?s our job as veterans: to remember them and welcome them home.?
New London VFW Post 7641 Auxiliary President Dianna Klaus said getting one in New London was a long time coming. Gathering the materials and finding the proper place was a lengthy process because they wanted to make sure every piece was appropriate to the time period the soldiers should have come home. Most VFW posts, including Mt. Pleasant, have their own table, but this was a first for New London. ?It just makes you remember,? she said. ?It makes you remember that the people that have been killed in action, they have that closure. The families of the POW/MIA don?t have any closure so we have to remember them, too.?
?It?s honoring the POW/MIA that have yet to come home yet,? added District One Auxilary President Renee Quinn. She says the table creates conversation and the opportunity for people to learn more about traditions and the history behind the wars.
The theme of honoring legacy and commemorating those yet to come home rang true Monday night. ?Because of our flag, people did go missing,? Meagher said. ?But because of our flag, the?re still looking for them and they?re not going to give up.?