Missing Man POW-MIA display on courthouse lawnBy: Paula Walter
Representatives from Rolling Thunder, Chapter Four from Tennessee, donated a Missing Man Chair in a heartfelt and emotional ceremony on the Johnson County Courthouse lawn this past Friday, October 18, 2013. The event was held to honor and remember all the prisoners of war (POW) and servicemen and women missing in action (MIA). Rolling Thunder makes it their mission to remind the public that there are still POWs and MIAs who never made it home. The organization has a strong commitment to protect American veterans of all ages and for all times.
According to Bob Rambo of Rolling Thunder’s Chapter Four, the group has been traveling all across northeastern Tennessee installing Missing Man Chairs in memory of the more than 93,000 American soldiers who never returned from all past wars. “It’s our desire and wish that the people of Mountain City and all of Johnson County will come by and take a look at our POW/MIA chair and never forget the sacrifice that has been made,” Rambo said. “ It’s an honor for Rolling Thunder to dedicate this chair in Mountain City.” He reminded those gathered for the solemn ceremony that Rolling Thunder was not a motorcycle club, although many of their members enjoying riding. The organization donates thousands of hours and money to help better the lives of veterans.
At a lone table sat an empty chair, symbolizing both the fallen and prisoners of war who are not here. In the Missing Man Table ceremony, the table is covered in a while tablecloth, a symbol of the missing prisoner who responded to their county in their time of need. A single rose in a vase reflects the blood shed for our freedom and the hope of all those who await the return of the missing. The yellow ribbon on the rose vase reminds us of all those who wore yellow ribbons, determined that all missing should be accounted for. The table also held salt on a plate that represented the tears shed by those who wait at home. An inverted glass reminds us that MIAs and POWs cannot join us in a toast. A slice of lemon signifies the fate of the missing while a candle is the light of hope that one day all the missing will be returned home to American soil. The Bible reminds us that the United States was founded on the principles that we are one nation, under God.
The ceremony concluded with the Last Roll Call. This haunting tribute takes participants through each war in remembrance of the roll call each First Sergeant held following combat. From each war, the number of those who never made it home was called out and where they were last seen, Europe, Africa, Vietnam, Korea, the Philippines, and from all corners of the world. The solemn event, ending with taps, served to remind all those that were left behind on the battlefields will never be forgotten.