They had only set the table for one person. The class was upside down because that person wasn’t around to raise it in a toast. A single rose was in the vase, and this table setting in the middle of Legion Park stood as as stark reminder of missing and captured soldiers as part of a Memorial Day commemoration.
The Memorial Day activities were organized and run by American Legion Post 681and included patriotic singing, poetry readings, tributes to fallen soldiers and more. People from around the Brighton Heights area and the Northside turned out to pay tribute to America’s Armed Forces.
The POW/MIA remembrance service is a table setting that symbolically represents those missing in action or captured in war. For example, the white tablecloth symbolizes the “frailty of one prisoner, alone against his or her supressors.” A single rose “signifies the blood they may have shed in sacrifice to ensure the freedom of our beloved United States of America.”
Other parts of the commemoration included a flag raising, a reading of “In Flanders Field,” a prayer and invocation on behalf of soldiers and their families, and speeches by former soldiers and members of Legion Post 681.
Members also offered a three gun salute, and the traditional playing of Taps.
Current service members and veterans attended the event, and every program booklet included a red poppy made by veterans in hospitals to help raise funds.
George Lichauer hosted the event, and said at one point that “Old soldiers don’t die, they just fade away,” and explained why they made sure that they were remembered.
“Every year there are less of us, but every year more and more people come to this event,” Lichauer said.
Pete Bellisario, the president of the Brighton Heights Citizens Federation, said that every year the American Legion and others have placed American flags at the graves in cemeteries around the Northside, but that fewer and fewer people have done so. He called on people to volunteer their time and effort for next year’s flag placement.