Display at WDRC honors POW/MIAs

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 11, 2004

For Vietnam veteran Ted Riedel, the Missing Man Table in the Workforce Development Resource Center lobby comes straight from the heart.

Riedel served in the U.S. Air Force from 1969 to 1978 and was in Vietnam in 1970-1971. For the staff sergeant in the military airlift command, setting up the display

honoring all of the prisoners of war and those missing in action was the least he could do.

Email newsletter signup

"I lost some very close friends while in 'Nam," he said.

The six empty place settings represent each of the five military branches - Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard - and another for all the civilians who lost their lives in war.

"Just being a veteran myself and with Memorial Day coming up, I thought it would be a good month for people to remember the veterans who lost their lives," said the Ironton resident.

Far from an ordinary dinner table, every item on the small, white-clothed table has a symbolic meaning, according to the National League of Families.

The round table symbolizes everlasting concern for all the missing soldiers. A white tablecloth represents the purity of the soldier's motives when each answered the call of duty.

A single red rose represents each missing soldier and their loved ones.

The lemon slices symbolize the bitter fate of those captured or missing overseas.

A pinch of salt symbolizes the tears shed by those missing and their families that never had the chance to say goodbye.

The Bible represents the faith to sustain those who have been lost.

"As two of the most important things, the wine glasses are inverted to show the emptiness and the seats are kept empty because these men and women can't join us," Riedel said.

So far, the display has caught quite a bit of attention.

"It has only been up since the first of May but almost everyone who walks in the door will stop and read about it," Riedel said.

WDRC officials are looking to find a way to display the table during the Memorial Day parade.