It is Memorial Day here in the United States of America.
I grew up in the Air Force. I grew up with the knowledge that my Dad gave much of his life in service of our country. Our family gave so much. To us it was normal, it was what is suppose to be: Service.
Although Dad put his life on the line many times the time that stands out to me was when Dad served a year in Vietnam. There was a popular song in the 70's, Daddy's Home by the Jackson 5, that I would listen to or sing to myself. I missed him so much. Dad got to come home. So many did not.
Today my youngest son plans to follow in his grandfather's footsteps and serve his country.
Jacob has participated in the Air Force Junior ROTC program for the past 4 years. At the end of the year there is an Awards Banquet. To open the event they honor those who gave everything to our country. It is sobering and full of symbolism.
The Missing Man POW/MIA Remembrance
Here are the written words to the ceremony.
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.
Before we begin our activities, we pause to recognize our POWs and MIAs.
We call your attention to this small table that 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.
We call them comrades. They are unable to be with their loved ones and families, so we join together to pay humble tribute to them, and to beat witness to their continued absence.
The table is small, symbolizing the frailty of one prisoner, alone against his or her suppresses.
The tablecloth is white, symbolic of the purity of their intentions to respond to their Country's call to arms.
The single rose in the vase signifies the blood they may have shed in sacrifice to ensure the freedom of our beloved United States of America. This rose also reminds us of the family and friends of our missing comrades who keep faith while awaiting their return.
The red ribbon on the case represents 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.
A slice of lemon on the plate reminds us of their bitter fate.
The salt sprinkled on the plate reminds us of the countless fallen tears of families as they wait.
The glass is inverted, they cannot toast with us at this time.
The chair is empty. They are NOT here.
The candle is reminiscent of the light of hope that lives in our hearts to illuminate their way home, away from their captors, to open arms of a grateful nation.
The American Flag reminds us that many of them may never return - and have paid the supreme sacrifice to ensure our freedom.
Let us pray to the Supreme Commander that all of our comrades will soon be back within our ranks.
Let us remember - and never forget their sacrifice.
May God forever watch over them and protect them and their families.
I will never forget.
1. my Dad
2. my Mom
3. Lt. Col. Ivan Applebee
4. my son
5. a country where I can worship God