10/24/2012 8:17:00 AM GHMS students honor military men and women in ceremony
Devin Cook, member of the GHMS Panthers in Action, places a red rose on the table as a symbol of the hope for the safe return of U.S. service men and women. Jasmine Jefferies, left, one of the narrators, stands quietly in respect.
Courtesy Photo/Timber Flory
Special to the Tribune
A hush fell across more than 400 Glassford Hill Middle School students and community members on Oct. 4 as the GHMS Panthers In Action carried out the White Table ceremony honoring the country's military men and women.
This is the school's second White Table ceremony, and it honored the return of E4 Specialist Colton Reeves, 82nd Airborne Infantry Regiment, currently stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C, and newly returned from Afghanistan. Reeves is the son of GHMS Language Arts teacher Mary Reeves, and he attended as guest of honor.
The White Table tradition began during the Vietnam War, both as a symbol for, and a remembrance of, servicemen and women held prisoners or missing in action.
The ceremony begins with a student placing a small table on the stage - a demonstration of a single soldier's battle against many.
The student covers the table with a white cloth in honor of the soldier's pure heart as he or she answers the country's call to duty.
A plate with lemon and salt symbolizes the struggle of the captive soldier and the tears of the families waiting at home. An empty chair is placed at the table for the absent soldiers, either captive or missing in action. A black napkin and an overturned glass bring to mind the pain of captivity, and the meals at home waiting to be eaten.
Next, a student brings out a white candle for peace and a red rose adorned with a red ribbon, symbolizing the hope that all military members will return some day.
Members of the community who attended the White Table Ceremony included veterans, current military members, members of the reserves, and families of those serving overseas. For weeks prior to the ceremony, students submitted the names of family members who currently serve or who have served in the military in order for the school to honor them and their sacrifices.
The ceremony began with the presentation of the colors performed by members of the Embry Riddle Color Guard. Then the members of the CHMS service group Panthers In Action conducted the White Table Ceremony.
The GHMS Choir performed the National Anthem and God Bless America, and Principal Theresa Matteson, mother of a service member, gave the concluding remarks to end the ceremony.