Ocean City Today
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Elks Lodge honors MIA and POW vets with table display

By Kara Hallissey | Jul 13, 2017
Photo by: Kara Hallissey The Ocean City Elks Lodge set up a table display in its facility on 138th Street, June 30, to honor the men and women missing in action or who spent time as a prisoner of war. Those responsible for making the display happen gather for a photo Monday afternoon, left, John Belzner, Sarge Garlitz, Peggy Ball and Kevin Matthews. Pat Riordan and Penny Matthews also helped, but are not pictured.

(July 14, 2017) The Ocean City Elks Lodge set up a table display in its facility on 138th Street, June 30, to honor the men and women missing in action or who spent time as a prisoner of war.

“We are respecting those who are missing in action or a prisoner of war and letting their families know we will never forget them,” said Peggie Ball, who suggested the display.

Each item placed on the tabletop has meaning. The table itself is round to show that concern for those soldiers never ends. The empty chair depicts the unknown face not with us and the white tablecloth represents the purity of their response to the country’s call to arms.

“Each item has symbolism and it is a good tribute to them,” Ball said. “It is a shrine to them. Something to show we love them even though they are not here.”

The black napkin stands for the emptiness these soldiers have left in the hearts of their families and friends. The single red rose reminds viewers of their families and loved ones and the red ribbon represents their love of the country.

“They will never have the celebrations we have and it’s sad to think it’s all taken away,” Ball said. “It’s a mother, father, niece, sister, brother, son and nephew.”

The candle symbolizes the everlasting hope for a reunion with those unaccounted for. The slice of lemon on a smaller plate reminds of their bitter fate and sprinkled salt represents the tears of their families. The wine glass is turned upside down because soldiers cannot be here to drink a toast or join in the festivities.

“The Elks has always taken care of veterans,” said Sarge Garlitz, a contributor to the display. “Putting this up shows our veterans this is your home and we are going to take care of you and never forget you.”

In the spring of 2015, Ball and her husband, Bob, visited the Elks Lodge in Edgewater, Florida, where they appreciated a missing in action and prisoner of war table that was on display at the facility.

“We didn’t have it in Ocean City and the veterans are an important part of the Elks,” Ball said. “It was important to be able to display something like this out of respect.” 

The idea lingered for a couple years and kept getting pushed back.

“I will be honest with you, it was weighing heavily on my heart,” she said.

After speaking with Garlitz in the spring and presenting the idea to the Elks on June 13, Ball, Garlitz, Pat Riordan, John Belzner and Penny and Kevin Matthews started gathering items to help create the Elks Lodge display.

“It’s right there as soon as you walk in the door and you can’t miss it,” Ball said. “It was a team effort and everyone was happy to do it. Once we got rolling, it was done in no time.”

The missing in action and prisoner of war table display dates back to the Vietnam War, she said.

In addition, a formal ceremony or dedication is being planned to take place in the next couple of months.

“Thanks for defending our country and sacrificing your own life,” Ball said.

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