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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

One serious moment

The black-tie Holiday in Dixie Military Ball is filled with pomp and circumstance and frivolity.

But for a few minutes on March 24, the 410 participants at Barksdale Air Force Base Hoban Hall were somber a Staff Sgt. Orlando Dawson explained the importance of a small table set to one side in the front of the room.

And, it didn’t garner much attention, until he explained what it was and its importance.

It sat in a special place of honor for it was a way of symbolizing those missing from the ranks, those held as prisoners of aar or listed as missing in action, Dawson explained.

Dawson explained its symbols.

The script said, in part:

"The table is small, symbolizing the frailty of one lone individual against their oppressors.

"The tablecloth is white, symbolizing the purity of their intentions to respond to their country’s call to arms.

The single red rose ... is symbolic of the families and loved ones who keep the faith as they await their return.

"The yellow ribbon, tied so prominently on the vase, is reminiscent of the ribbons worn on the breasts and lapels of thousands who yearn for the return of their loved ones.

"The red candle stands alone as they have stood; its red color symbolizing the blood they shed for us.

"The slice of lemon on the bread plate,reminds us of their bitter fate.

"The salt on the plate is symbolic of the families tears as they wait."

And, because POWS in Vietnam toasted each other silently with water, so did the gala ball attendees. During one of the ball’s few quiet moments.

I must say, though: the ceremony gave all of us pause to think.
(Paul L. Schuetze/The Times)


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