YOU MAY HAVE NOTICED THE TABLE SET BEFORE YOU. IT IS FILLED WITH SYMBOLISM. I WILL EXPLAIN.
THIS TABLE IS SET FOR OUR PRISONERS OF WAR AND THOSE MISSING IN ACTION — FROM ALL WARS.
(Amazing Grace is playing while the Cadets march in.)
THEY ARE NOT WITH US TODAY. THEIR CHAIRS ARE EMPTY, BUT SAVED FOR THEIR HOPED RETURN. LET US REMEMBER THEIR ABSENCE.
(As the individual service is announced, a cadet enters with the appropriate wheel hat, places it on the table, and remains until the end of the ceremony)
LET US REMEMBER THE UNITED STATES AIR FORCE, HONORED BY CADET
(Cadet enters with Air Force cover, wheels cover and places it on the table)
LET US REMEMBER THE UNITED STATES ARMY, HONORED BY CADET
(Cadet enters with Army cover, wheels cover and places it on the table)
LET US REMEMBER THE UNITED STATES NAVY, HONORED BY CADET
(Cadet enters with Navy cover, wheels cover and places it on the table)
LET US REMEMBER THE UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS, HONORED BY CADET
(Cadet enters with Marine Corps cover, wheels cover and places it on the table)
LET US REMEMBER THE MEN AND WOMEN PRISONERS OF WAR FROM ALL BRANCHES OF SERVICE THAT ARE TOO OFTEN FORGOTTEN. LET US REMEMBER THEM.
THE TABLE CLOTH IS WHITE, SYMBOLIZING THE PURITY OF THEIR INTENTIONS TO RESPOND TO THEIR COUNTRY’S CALL TO ARMS — SO THAT THEIR CHILDREN COULD REMAIN FREE. REMEMBER.
THE LONE CANDLE SYMBOLIZES THE FRAILTY OF A PRISONER ALONE, TRYING TO STAND UP AGAINST HIS OPPRESSORS. REMEMBER.
(A cadet lights the candle)
THE BLACK RIBBON ON THE CANDLE REMINDS US OF THOSE WHO WILL NOT BE COMING HOME. REMEMBER
THE SINGLE ROSE REMINDS US OF THE LOVED ONES AND FAMILIES OF OUR COMRADES IN ARMS WHO KEEP THE FAITH AND AWAIT THEIR RETURN. REMEMBER.
A SLICE OF LEMON IS ON THE BREAD PLATE TO REMIND US OF THEIR BITTER FATE — IF WE DO NOT BRING THEM HOME. REMEMBER.
(Upon announcement of “A SLICE OF LEMON…”, Cadet will sprinkle salt)
THERE IS SALT ON THE PLATE, SYMBOLIC OF THE FAMILY’S TEARS AS THEY WAIT AND REMEMBER.
(Upon announcement of “THERE IS SALT…”, Cadets will grasp the wine glasses and bring to eye level)
THE GLASSES ARE INVERTED. THEY CANNOT TOAST WITH US TONIGHT — MAYBE TOMORROW, IF WE REMEMBER.
(Upon announcement of “THE GLASSES ARE INVERTED…”, the cadets execute a slow bend at the waist and pick up the wineglasses to eye level. At the word, “INVERTED”, the Honor Guard members quickly flip the wineglasses upside down with a twist of the wrist. Then slowly bring down the wineglasses to the table inverted.)
THE RED, WHITE AND BLUE RIBBONS ARE TIED TO THE FLOWER VASE BY A YELLOW RIBBON THAT REPRESENTS THE YELLOW RIBBONS WORN ON THE LAPELS OF THE THOUSANDS WHO DEMAND, WITH UNYIELDING DETERMINATION, A PROPER ACCOUNT OF OUR COMRADES WHO ARE NOT AMONG US. REMEMBER.
THE FADED PICTURE ON THE TABLE IS A REMINDER THAT THEY ARE MISSED VERY MUCH AND ARE REMEMBERED BY THEIR FAMILIES. REMEMBER.
AS WE LOOK UPON THIS EMPTY TABLE, DO NOT REMEMBER GHOSTS FROM THE PAST, REMEMBER OUR COMRADES.
REMEMBER THOSE WHOM WE DEPENDED ON IN BATTLE. THEY DEPEND ON US TO BRING THEM HOME.
REMEMBER OUR FRIENDS. THEY ARE THE ONES WE LOVE — WHO LOVE LIFE AND FREEDOM AS WE DO.
THEY WILL REMEMBER WHAT WE DO. PLEASE HONOR AND REMEMBER THEM.
(The Honor Guard executes a slow salute together. They hold it approximately 10 seconds after the music has ended. Afterwards, the members slowly order arms and the Honor Guard commander will call “POST” and the members will execute a Right Face. “March” will then move the members out of the room in a slow fashion.)