Restaurants Across The Country Are Setting Up 'Missing Man' Tables This Weekend

“It’s not all about fireworks and fun, this is close to our hearts.”

On Memorial Day, most people spend the day at the beach or barbecuing, and while time spent with family is important, some restaurants are making sure that their customers don't forget the true significance of the holiday.  Restaurants across the country are setting up reserved "missing man" tables to honor those who went missing while serving in the United States' armed forces. Certain Chick-fil-A and Dunkin' Donuts locations are also participating.


According to a Tennessee Chick-fil-A's Facebook post, the decorations on each missing man table are chosen to symbolize different aspects of the life and memory of a missing soldier. 

The tablecloth is white to show the purity of heart of the men and women who answered the call to serve. A red rose represents the life of the missing. A yellow ribbon illustrates determination to account for the missing. A pinch of salt symbolizes tears shed over the lost soldier, and a Bible represents how their family members may find strength in faith. The glass on the table is inverted to represent the soldier's inability to share the evening. And, finally, the chair is empty, because the soldier is missing. 

A printed explanation is set on each missing man table, so that people unfamiliar with the practice can join in and remember those that have been lost and gone missing.

"Memorial Day is a somber holiday - it's really about the fallen. The current or recent service members who come into our restaurant are really affected by this," retired Navy Commander Marinus Storm was quoted as saying in a Chick-fil-A blog post.

"Some of us are military families," a  Dunkin' Donuts spokesperson explained to WRCB TV News. "We just don't want everybody to think its fireworks and fun. It's very close to our hearts."

It's clear that the missing man tables are touching hearts across the country. Kathi Conroy, a Californian whose son was killed in Afghanistan, approached restaurants in the San Clemente area in 2017 and 2018 to ask them to participate. 

"My whole purpose is to let people who have lost loved ones, battle buddies or for those who are still missing someone, know that the community doesn't forget and that their loved one's life was important," she told The Orange County Register. "The tables give people an opportunity to express that — even if it's just for a minute."


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