If you make a trip to the Owatonna Public Library over the next 10 days or so, there is a special display to look for at the entrance.
It might actually be a little eerie. But that’s by design. It’s a table setting in honor of POW/MIA Recognition Day. And it’s Gege Abraham’s attempt to save a place for a missing man. She is with the Owatonna VFW Auxillary.
The table features a single red rose, red ribbon, lemon slice, pinch of salt, the Bible, inverted glass and empty chairs.
The rose in a vase is a reminder of the lives of each of the missing and their loved ones who keep the faith, still waiting for answers. The ribbon shows our continued determination to account for the missing.
A lemon slice reminds us of the bitter fate of those captured and missing in a foreign land. Add to it a pinch of salt, which recalls the tears endured by those missing and their families who seek answers.
The Bible represents the strength gained through faith to sustain those lost from our country, which was founded as one nation under God.
And, of course, chairs at each end sit empty to express their absence.
Abraham has been setting the table for the past 10 years in various spots around the community to gain as much exposure as possible. She wants it to serve as a strong reminder.
“There is somebody here who can’t be with us,” she said, pointing to the chair draped with a POW fabric covering containing a replica of the flag. “To remember them, keep looking for them.”
She said the POW/MIA remembrance gives families and friends “so much hope to know somebody is remembering them.” She added, “We’re not going to leave them behind. We want people to learn about the sacrifices our military do.”
Abraham has been involved with the Auxiliary for the past 30 years. This was influenced by her father, Jim Novy, who was a Korean War veteran and wounded in Korea.
“My heart is in this. It’s my passion,” she said.
One thing especially troubles Abraham. She has seen a decline in patriotism in recent years. She encourages people to give others a nudge if they don’t put their hand over their heart when circumstances warrant. She doesn’t appreciate it when people don’t take their hats off to salute the American flag.
She blames apathy for the demise in patriotism.
“People are just so wrapped up in themselves,” she said, adding the current political climate doesn’t help either.
Other opportunities in September to show patriotism included Patriot Day on Sept. 11, Constitution Day and Citizenship Day on Sept. 17 and Gold Star Mother’s Day on Sept. 24. And, certainly don’t forget Veterans Day coming up on Nov. 11.
Besides remembering POWs and MIAs, let’s all go in hot pursuit of showing our American patriotism as best as we can.