America’s White Table by Margot Theis Raven and Mike Benny
The White Table is set in many mess halls as a symbol for and remembrance to service members fallen, missing, or held captive in the line of duty. It is also seen at many military banquets and balls. Solitary and solemn, it is the table where no one will ever sit.
As a military wife of almost19 years, I have seen many White Tables at many functions. They always give me a moment of pause, but their symbolism really hit home when I read Raven’s and Benny’s America’s White Table. In 2008 we were all planning for our Veteran’s Day lessons. Our school district is not closed on Veteran’s Day (which took some getting used to after having worked in a Department of Defense school for many years), but each school is required to do lessons centered around Veteran’s Day.
One of the teachers mentioned she was looking for a copy of this book. She wanted to share it with her students. I had never read the book, but I am grateful she brought it to my attention. Even though the classrooms were all doing various activities for Veterans Day, I decided the library could help with those plans by setting up a White Table in the library. Raven and Benny paint a wonderful story with their words and the illustrations, but sometimes, adults and children alike, need to be able to see and touch something to get its full meaning.
America’s White Table is a beautifully written and illustrated book that explains this touching memorial to our military in words that children can understand. Adults will also be moved by this book. I, myself, can’t read it without crying. (So much for being the tough Army wife.)
This is an excellent book to use for Veterans Day or Memorial Day. It is also a great gift for military families. I not only added it to my school's collection, but my personal collection as well.
AMERICA’S WHITE TABLE
Materials Needed: Small Table with an Empty Chair
White Table Cloth, Black Napkin
Glass (turned over), White Candle
Lemon Slice and Grains of Salt on a Plate
One Place Setting: fork, spoon, and knife
A Red Rose in a vase tied with a Red Ribbon
The table honors the men and women who served in America’s Armed Forces
“We cover a small table with a white cloth to honor a soldier’s pure heart when he answers his country’s call to duty.”
“We place a lemon slice and grains of salt on a plate to show a captive soldier’s bitter fate and tears of families waiting for loved ones to return.”
“We push an empty chair to the table for the missing soldiers who are not here.”
“We lay a black napkin for the sorrow of captivity, and turn over a glass for the meal that won’t be eaten.”
“We place a white candle for peace and finally, a red rose in a vase tied with a red ribbon for the hope that all our missing will return someday.”
"You are not forgotten so long as there is one left in whom your memory remains"