Air Force removes POW/MIA ‘Missing Man’ table because it includes a Bible


Something is missing from the Riverside Dining Facility at: Patrick Air Force Base: the traditional: POW/MIA “Missing Man” table.

MIA_POW-060

Such tables, a mainstay at military bases and veterans’ organizations, are set for six, one for each service – the Army, Air Force, Marines, Navy, Coast Guard and civilian personnel – representing personnel missing in action or taken as prisoners of war.

The table was removed from Florida’s Patrick Air Force Base because of one item traditionally placed on the table –: a copy of the Bible, according toFlorida Today.

“The 45th Space Wing deeply desires to honor America’s Prisoners of War (POW) and Missing in Action (MIA) personnel,” commanders said in a written statement, Florida Today reported. “Unfortunately, the Bible’s presence or absence on the table at the Riverside Dining Facility ignited controversy and division, distracting from the table’s primary purpose of honoring POWs/MIAs. Consequently, we temporarily replaced the table with the POW/MIA flag in an effort to show our continued support of these heroes while seeking an acceptable solution to the controversy.”

Each POW/MIA table is to be set with absolute precision, according to theNational League of POW/MIA Families, which described the setting this way:

  • The table is round — to show our everlasting concern.
  • The cloth is white — symbolizing the purity of their motives when answering the call to serve.
  • The single red rose reminds us of the lives of these Americans, and their loved ones and friends who keep the faith, while seeking answers.
  • The red ribbon symbolizes our continued determination to account for them.
  • A slice of lemon reminds us of the bitter fate of those captured and missing in a foreign land.
  • A pinch of salt symbolizes the tears of our missing and their families who long for answers after decades of uncertainty.
  • The lighted candle reflects our hope for their return — alive or dead.
  • The Bible represents the strength gained through faith in our country, founded as one nation under God, to sustain those lost from our midst.
  • The glass is inverted — to symbolize their inability to share a toast.
  • The chairs are empty — they are missing.

So how is the Air Force going to resolve the situation?

“After consultation with several relevant organizations, we now intend to re-introduce the POW/MIA table in a manner inclusive of all POWs/MIAs as well as Americans everywhere” the commanders’ statement said.

As of Monday, no one knew when the table would return, or whether it would include the traditional Bible, according to: Fox News.

Two weeks before the March 28 Florida Today report, Gen. Mark Welsh, Air Force chief of staff, testified before the House Armed Services committee that there was no war on religious liberty within the Air Force.

So how is the Air Force going to resolve the situation?

“After consultation with several relevant organizations, we now intend to re-introduce the POW/MIA table in a manner inclusive of all POWs/MIAs as well as Americans everywhere” the commanders’ statement said.

As of Monday, no one knew when the table would return, or whether it would include the traditional Bible, according to Fox News. http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2014/03/31/air-force-removes-bible-from-pow-mia-display/

Two weeks before the March 28 Florida Today report, Gen. Mark Welsh, Air Force chief of staff, testified before the House Armed Services committee that there was no war on religious liberty within the Air Force.

“The single biggest frustration I’ve had in this job is the perception that somehow there is religious persecution inside the United States Air Force,” the general said, according to: Fox News. “It is not true.”

Others beg to differ.

“I’m still looking for somebody in a leadership position in the Air Force with an ounce of courage,” retired Army Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin told Fox. “They buckle to an extreme minority group every time, and constitutionally, they are simply wrong.”

U.S. Rep. John Fleming, R-La., took issue with the anonymity of the person who lodged the complaint.

“Since when does one unnamed, unknown individual have veto power over the First Amendment rights of all people in the military and in this case the Air Force?” he asked.

The inclusion of the Bible has nothing to do with the faith of those using the dining facilities. It’s symbolic of the faith of those missing or imprisoned, and the faith of their loved ones that those missing will return. In such situations, faith is all we have.

If the Air Force decides to re-introduce the table without the Bible, it should add another slice of lemon in its stead – to remind us of the bitter taste of capitulation by an entire branch if the United States military to the whims an unnamed, unknown individual.

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