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Oak Harbor VFW to rededicate POW/MIA memorial

Myron Brundage, VFW Post 7392 Sr. vice commander, positions items in preparation for Friday’s rededication.   - Janis Reid/Whidbey News-Times
Myron Brundage, VFW Post 7392 Sr. vice commander, positions items in preparation for Friday’s rededication.
— image credit: Janis Reid/Whidbey News-Times

It’s more than just an empty table with a candle on it.

It’s a physical reminder of any serviceman or woman who has not yet come home.

The Oak Harbor Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 7392 will rededicate its POW/MIA table 6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 20, during public event including the ceremony followed by a spaghetti dinner and music.

“The moment we forget out history we repeat it,” said Myron Brundage, Sr. vice commander and organizer of the special event.

“Everyone that goes overseas should come back.”

Unlike in previous years when the POW/MIA National Recognation Day ceremony was relatively simple, the post is rededicating each symbolic item on the table, and adding a few new elements to the event.

Like previous years, the event will be remembering one of their own, Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, an Oak Harbor resident who has been a prisoner of war since June 30, 2009, when he was captured in Afghanistan by members of the Haqqani network.

However the location of the table has changed, a “quarter deck” style red carpet will be rolled out, a bell-ringing ceremony has been added and the items included on the table will be brought individually by the VFW Riders.

Brundage, a Vietnam veteran, said he decided to change up the ceremony to “refresh” people’s memory about something all Americans should remember.

“When they define each item (on the table), it tells a story,” Brundage said.

While each branch of the service has their own unique interpretation of the table’s symbols, they are all essentially the same, providing small remembrances of the country’s prisoners of war and missing in action servicemen and women, Brundage said.

The table is set for one, symbolizing a prisoner’s solitude. The tablecloth is white for the purity of their service.

The single red rose calls to mind the families awaiting the return of their loved one. The candle is lit symbolizing the unconquerable spirit. Lemon and salt are on the plate reminding of their bitter fate and the salt of their families tears.

The glass is inverted because they cannot toast, and the chair is empty because they are not here.

“People who are killed in action, and POW and MIA … how can you better define your love for your country?” Brundage said.

The ceremony will also feature a “missing man” hat ceremony with six places set for each branch of the military and civilian first responders.

Two members of the state Honor Guard will be in attendance, Keith Waldridge and Darrell Small, along with the Patriot Guard Riders who will be providing a flag line, with flags courtesy of the Oak Harbor Lion’s Club.

When asked why he believes remembering is so important, Brundage fought back a tear and said, “How can you not?”

 

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