Members of the Heritage High School Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (AFJROTC) attend the Oakley, Calif., Veterans Day Ceremony at Civic Center Plaza on Nov. 11, 2022. (Ray Saint Germain/Bay City News)
Every November 11th, communities across the country unite and pay their respects and give thanks to those who served and are serving in the United States military. The day commemorates the sacrifice and bravery of the U.S. veterans.
According to the Department of Veteran Affairs, the holiday was originally called Armistice Day — the end of World War I marked with the signing of an armistice between the Allied nations and Germany, which went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.
In 1938, Congress established Armistice Day as a legal holiday to be observed on November 11 every year, dedicating the day to the veterans of World War I. Following World War II, in 1954, Armistice Day became Veterans Day — a day to honor the veterans of all wars.
A big component of the event is the Vacant Table set up in memory of the service members who were either Prisoners of War (POW) or Missing in Action (MIA). The small table, symbolizing the isolation of a prisoner of war, is set with a white cloth and holds a red rose in a vase with a red ribbon, a lit candle, with an inverted glass and salt and lemon on the plate.
While the white is symbolical of the purity of their intentions, a single red rose signifies the blood shed as their sacrifice to the country. A red ribbon tied around the vase is for the determination to account for the missing. The candle represents the light of hope, for them to find their way home. The salt represents the minds of countless families as they wait while the lemon serves as a reminder of their bitter fate. A glass is placed upside down for those missing who cannot join the toast.