Memorial Day isn’t celebrated-it’s observed. Memorial Day—once known as “Decoration Day” dates to just after the Civil War when various groups selected a day to lay flowers on the graves of those who fell in battle. Both North and South began similar traditions; eventually ending up on the last Monday in May. Veterans Day recognizes those who have served; Memorial Day is for those who, in Abraham Lincoln’s words, “Gave the last full measure.”
There is a symbol, and on special occasions, a brief ceremony to honor the fallen, and especially those who are missing in action or prisoners of war. It is commonly known as the “White Table” or “Missing Service Member (initially “man”) Table.” The following is read, explaining the significance of each item on the table. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Missing_man_table
Table Ceremony Script
Preferably, the table is being set while the script is read.
The table that stands before you is a place of honor. In setting this table, we acknowledge those missing from our celebration today. And we remember them. (ring bell)
The table is small, and set for one — Symbolizing the vulnerability of a lone prisoner against his captors. Remember! (ring bell)
The tablecloth is white — Symbolizing purity of intention in responding to the nation’s call to arms. Remember! (ring bell)
The chair is empty, for they are not here. Remember! (ring bell)
The wine glass is inverted — They cannot toast with us this night. Remember! (ring bell)
The slices of lemon — Reminding us of their bitter suffering. Remember! (ring bell)
The grains of salt — Representing the countless tears of the families. Remember! (ring bell)
The single red rose — Reminding us of loved ones who keep the faith awaiting their return. Remember! (ring bell)
The burning candle and yellow ribbon — Symbolizing everlasting hope of a reunion with the missing. Remember! (ring bell)
Remember! — All who have served alongside them; we who have donned the same proud uniform, being sworn to the same faith and allegiance — We will never forget their sacrifice. Remember! (ring bell)
Remember! — Until the day they return home, or find eternal peace, we will remember. (ring bell).