Students, community gather to honor veterans

Published 8:54 am Monday, November 14, 2016

Star Photo/Abby Morris-Frye   U.S. Army veteran Pete Voigt points to items placed on the Missing Man Table Ceremony as CW4(R) Jim DuBose (not shown) describes the significance of each item in the place setting.

Star Photo/Abby Morris-Frye
U.S. Army veteran Pete Voigt points to items placed on the Missing Man Table Ceremony as CW4(R) Jim DuBose (not shown) describes the significance of each item in the place setting.

From Valley Forge to Vietnam and from the sands of the beach of Normandy to the sands of the desert in Afghanistan and in all the battles in between, America’s veterans have answered the call to service.
On Friday, members of the community and local veterans gathered with students at Hampton High School to say thanks and pay respect to the men and women who have put service before self and taken up the mantle of the U.S. military.
“The freedom that we so much enjoy can only be possible by the blood, sweat and tears our veterans have shed,” HHS Principal Jeff Bradley, himself a veteran, said as he opened the Veterans Day Observance at the school.
The community has always taken pride in its veterans and military service, said Carter County Veterans Service Officer David Batchelder.
“We live in a county where over 10 percent of our residents are veterans,” Batchelder said.
Veterans come from all walks of life but they share several qualities, such as courage, selflessness, and honor, Batchelder said.
“I would ask you to remember their sacrifice and service and I challenge you to thank a veteran,” he told those assembled.
During the observance, U.S. Army veterans CW4 (R) and Jim DuBose and Pete Voigt performed the Missing Man Table Ceremony as a tribute to those veterans who were Prisoners of War or who were listed as Missing In Action. As DuBose explained the significance of the POW/MIA table setting Voigt brought the audience’s attention to each item.
In this special ceremony, a small table is set up and covered with a white table cloth. An empty chair draped in black bearing the POW and MIA symbol sits behind the table.
The table is small and holds only one place setting to “symbolize the frailty of one prisoner alone against his oppressors,” DuBose said. The cloth is white, he said, to symbolize the purity of the soldier’s intentions in responding to their country’s call to arms.
Several items rest atop the table, each with their own special significance — a candle to show the soldier’s unconquerable spirit; a slice of lemon on a bread plate to remind others of their bitter fate; a single red rose displayed in a vase to serve as a reminder of the families of those missing; colored ribbons adorn the vase signifying the ribbons a soldier wears upon their chest; an inverted drinking glass because the missing cannot toast in honor with their comrades; a Bible to signify the comfort of faith; and a black napkin, which DuBose said represents “the black hearts” of some of America’s leaders for abandoning the soldiers.
“Do not let them be forgotten, for surely they have not forgotten you,” DuBose said to close out the ceremony.
Voigt then led those in attendance in Remembering the Wars. As Voigt read off the list of major wars the United States has taken part in during its history students came forward and placed an American flag in a white cross to signify God and Country. The veterans in attendance were asked to stand and be recognized when their particular war was called.
U.S. Army CW4 (R) Randy Lingerfelt was the keynote speaker for the Veterans Day Observance and he spoke about the history of Veterans Day and the import role veterans have played.
On the 11th day of the 11th month at the 11th hour in 1918 World War I officially came to an end. The following year, the United States celebrated Armistice Day to commemorate the anniversary of the what was called “the War to end all wars.” However, more wars would come and more veterans would answer the call.
“On this Veterans Day we give thanks to 24 million American veterans,” Lingerfelt said. “May God bless our veterans. May God bless those who currently wear the uniform. And may God continue to bless the United States of America.”

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