A long-standing tradition across America during Memorial Day, Veterans Day, the Fourth or July or other holidays is that of the White Table.

The table where no one will ever sit is to honor the fallen, missing or captive from those who serve — spanning all the decades, wars and passages of time. The table is meant to remind us, never forget.

In “America’s White Table” by Margot Theis Raven, a group of sisters are asked to set the table in honor of their Uncle John. As they set out each piece, their mother relays the significance behind each: From the size of the table, to the lemon wedge, the empty chair. 

It is a short and illustrated book, but informative, meaningful and readable for all ages. The book is an excellent reminder of those gone or lost, but never forgotten to the call of duty.  

The White Table is today set in many mess halls acting as a symbol to remember and honor. In the book, the youth come to learn and appreciate the depth of sacrifice that their family member — as well as so many other family members — were called to give. Not only does its message give readers insight to war, but evokes imagery and feelings for those who cannot be here during so many holidays and special events here in America.

Theis Raven has worked in radio, television, magazines, newspapers and children’s books for three decades, earning her both state and national awards. The book is beautifully illustrated by Mike Benny, whose work has been in Time, GQ, New Yorker and Sports Illustrated Magazines. 

The White Table, set with pride:

A WHITE TABLECLOTH for purity of motive

A BLACK NAPKIN for prisoners of war

A LIT CANDLE to remind us that America is a light in a world of darkness

A RED ROSE for the hopes and prayers of those awaiting their loved one’s return

A RED RIBBON TIED TO THE VASE for our determination in finding them

AN INVERTED GLASS for the missed meal

A SLICE OF LEMON for the bitter fate of the missing

A PINCH OF SALT for the tears of their families