STRAFFORD, Mo – A truck-stop diner pays respect to the military by reserving a table for fallen soldiers.
The TA Truck Service shop has a café inside its gas station. Before entering the dining room, a Fallen Soldier Table, also known as a Missing Man Table, is on display as a remembrance to US Military service members who have fallen, are missing, or imprisoned.
“Every day, we change out the cup, plate, and silverware. There’s a new fresh lemon placed every day with a pinch of salt on the lemon. And once a week, we pull the cloth and wash the white cloth. Other than that, we just try to maintain it so people understand the importance of what this means,” says General Manager Brandy Harp.
Each item placed on the table represents an emotion or feeling reserved for those who did not come home.
According to Warmemorialcenter.org, the following tells the meaning of each piece on the Missing Man’s Table:
- The table is round, to show our everlasting concern for our missing men.
- The cloth is white, symbolizing the purity of their motives when answering the call to serve.
- The single red rose; displayed in a vase, reminds us of the lives of these Americans and their loved ones and friends who keep the faith while seeking answers.
- The red ribbon symbolizes our continued determination to account for our missing.
- A slice of lemon reminds us of their bitter fate; captured and missing in a foreign land.
- A pinch of salt symbolizes the tears of our missing and their families who long for answers after decades of uncertainty.
- The lighted candle reflects our hope for their return, alive or dead.
- The Bible represents the strength gained through faith to sustain us and those lost from our country, founded as one nation under God.
- The glass is inverted, symbolizing their inability to share a toast. The chair is empty, the seat that remains unclaimed at the table.”