HIGHLINE COLLEGE |Wed, Feb 26, 2020

Federal Way council candidates stress safety

By Emmitt Sevores - Staff Reporters

During military events, a smaller, round table is always set - but never occupied. It is meant to show respect for Prisoners of War/Missing in Action service members.

Highline student and service veteran Crystal Powell explained the POW/MIA custom at last week's on-campus presentation in advance of last Monday's Veterans Day observance.

"The white tablecloth draped over the table represents the purity of their response to our country's call to arms," Powell said.

The empty chair depicts an unknown face, representing no specific soldier, sailor, airman, or marine, but all whom are not here with us, and the table itself is round to show that our concern for them is never-ending, she said.

"The Bible represents faith in a higher power and the pledge to our country, founded as one nation under God," Powell said.

A simple black napkin represents the emptiness these warriors have left in the hearts of their families and friends.

If appropriate, a Purple Heart medal may be pinned to the napkin, Powell explained.

"The single red rose reminds us of their families and love ones, while the red ribbon represents the love of their country, which inspired them to answer the nation's call," she said.

"The yellow candle and its yellow ribbon symbolize the everlasting hope for a joyous re- union with those yet accounted for," Powell said.

Slices of lemon on the bread plate are to remind us of their bitter fate, Powell said.

"The salt upon the bread plates represent the tears of their families," she said, and "the wine glass, turned upside down, reminds us that our distinguished comrades cannot be with us to drink a toast or join in the festivities of the evening," she said.

Powell's presentation preceded remarks by Orting Mayor Joshua Penner, both a veteran and former employee at Highline.

Penner served eight years active in the U.S. Marines as a radio operator.

Upon discharge, he came to Highline as TRiO adviser and while in that role helped formulate the college's veterans support program, said Kendall Evans, who works in the program today.

Penner then went from serving as a city council member in his hometown of Orting to being elected the Pierce County town's mayor in 2018.

"I love talking about veterans and it's an honor being here at Highline doing this presentation," Penner said.

He said he likes celebrating Veterans Day as a means to show others "who had never gotten the chance to serve our great nation," the respect that should be accorded those who did.

Particularly following the Vietnam War, some people argue that there are good and bad wars and may view veterans from particular periods of service differently.

Others try to make a distinction as to whether someone served in a war zone or not.

"Serving in the military is what we should focus on, not when and why we served," Penner said.

He explained that veterans tend to keep to themselves and often feel awkward when some- one thanks them for their service.

Sometimes civilians ask veterans about their service in a manner that can make a veteran feel uncomfortable because the questioner has no understanding of what it means to have served.

In response, two acknowledgements on the part of veterans can either be "you're welcome, or thank you for your support," Penner said.


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