Luncheon held for campus veterans

Melissa Farmer


A luncheon was held for the veterans of Volunteer State Community College on Nov. 11 [Veteran’s Day] in the Carpeted Dining Room.  The event included students, faculty, staff, and guest speakers.

Joe Shakeenab, who was a Special Forces Green Beret when he served, spoke of days when he was younger and how he always wanted to be the best he could be. He was always hungry for knowledge.

He encouraged the veterans at the luncheon to continue to “be hungry,” or to always have a goal and a mission. The Veterans enjoyed a meal that included chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, and other delicious sides.

Before the event started our attention was drawn to the “POW/MIA table” which stands for “prisoner of war” and “missing in action,” for any soldiers who have not yet/did not come home.

The table was set in a specific way. The cloth was white – symbolizing the purity of their motives when answering the call to serve.

“The single red rose reminds us of the lives of these Americans….and their loved ones and friends who keep the faith, while seeking answers. The yellow ribbon symbolizes our continued uncertainty, hope for their return and determination to account for them.”

“A slice of lemon reminds us of their bitter fate, captured and missing in a foreign land. A pinch of salt symbolizes the tears of our missing and their families – who long for answers after decades of uncertainty. The lighted candle reflects our hope for their return – alive or dead.”

The Bible represents the strength gained through faith to sustain us and those lost from our country, founded as one nation under God. The glass is inverted – to symbolize their inability to share a toast. The chairs are empty – they are missing.”

This is what is read aloud to explain the setting to anyone in the group who was unaware of what the MIA table stands for.

Later on, Ken Hanson explained that the veterans on campus could now use the downstairs room that used to be used for club meetings.  The room will have computers available. It will be an area to do homework or “just hang out” if you have some free time on campus.

Hanson expressed that he wants to help make the transition from active duty to civilian life as smooth as possible and he hopes that the Veteran area downstairs will help that happen.