America’s White Table
Each year on or around Veteran’s Day, the book America’s White Table, by Margot Theis Raven, is read to 5th grade students. As the book is read, a MIA/POW Remembrance or Missing Man Table is set. Each of the items on the table represents something in relationship to the war.
*a small table to show one soldier’s lonely battle against many
*a white cloth to honor a soldier’s pure heart when he answers his country’s call to duty
* a lemon slice and grains of salt on a plate to show a captive soldier’s bitter fate and the tears of families waiting for loved one to return
* an empty chair for the missing soldiers who are not here
*a black napkin for the sorrow of captivity
* a glass turned over for the meal that won’t be eaten
*a white candle for peace
* a red rose in a vase tied with a red ribbon in the hope that all our missing will return someday.
The tradition of the “the white table” originated during the time of the Vietnam War and is still continued today in mess halls and military events around the country. In this book children are given the opportunity to understand the bravery and courage men and women take to serve our country and protect our freedom. It is my hope that they gain understanding and deep respect for those who have, continue, and will serve our country.
5th graders then wrote reactions/reflections to reading the book and understanding Veteran’s Day.
“I had goosebumps while reading this story, and it wasn’t because I was cold. I felt sad, but also this odd feeling. I was sort of like I had to honor these soldiers somehow. I am happy we set a white table for all the soldiers who were serving during this time. I hope that all people in America honor the soldiers in some way, anyway.” –Molly
“I like the book. This year I will honor Veteran’s Day more than I have in the past. I enjoyed learning about this and it really made me think. When I think about this table, I see people gathering around it with a flag behind it.” -Jack
“I learned that we all should be thankful and appreciate all of our people that serve in wars to protect our country. The story made me feel sad, but it also made me happy to know that lots of people show their appreciation as setting up America’s White Table!” –Molly
“One of my thoughts were, I feel more respect for Veterans everywhere, dead, alive, captive, old, young, black, white, families who lost someone and families who have someone serving. The main thing is I feel like veterans should get more respect than anyone.” –Brody
“I really liked this book because I think it teaches me more about Veteran’s Day. It made me appreciate how fortunate I am, and taught me why they put up the white table. They place a white plate for the meal that won’t be eaten. They put a lemon and salt for the tears people have cried because they have lost a loved one. They place a cup upside down for the drink no one will drink and rose for all the loved ones they have lost.” –Arabella
“I liked this story but it made me sad but happy at the same time. I felt sad for all of the people that died but happy that all of these people do this to remember every person that died. I am happy that people love our country so much they are willing to sacrifice themselves. I am very sorry for all of the families that had their mom or dad die in a war. This story was very deep and make me feel sad more than most books do.” –Ian
I really liked the book. I felt very sad. It makes me think how they have felt during the war, such as missing their families and fighting, almost getting killed. I want everybody who fought to know: “Thank you for serving!”” -Ben
Thank you Mrs. Gott and 5th grader class, for this wonderful reminder of sacrifice and fidelity.