The “Missing Man”

The "Missing Man"

A blog by Kimberly

America's White Table book


The freedoms of this country are secured by the American soldier. Countless thousands have battled for the ideas that make this nation. In this “Missing Man” photography project, I made it my goal to pay tribute to the American Soldier, many of whom had a hard road to travel.

The “white table” is solemn table setting: a memorial feature seen at events and locations across the US and is described in the children’s book “America’s White Table.” The significant elements usually include a white cloth on a small round table, an overturned drinking glass, lemon and salt, red rose and yellow candle. Each item carries meaning, making the display one of deep impact.

For this still life image, I wanted to choose the items carefully. To begin, I selected my family’s heirloom “Army Navy tablecloth that features an intriguing motif that dates to Civil War times, when cloths were cobbled together from remnants. The white of the tablecloth signifies the purity of motivation of the soldiers’ sacrifice. 

The small size of the table symbolizes the solitude of the soldier’s sacrifice. The round shape of the table indicates never-ending hope and commitment.

The glass vase holding the red ribbon-tied rose has deeper meaning as well; the flower and ribbon signify the determination of loved ones left behind. The vase I chose is a vintage hobnail glass vase; “hobnail” has military origins: the term comes from the nails that the Roman soldiers would drive into the soles of their shoes in order to make them last longer while on military campaigns.

"Missing Man" White Table photograph
"Missing Man" studio project

The yellow candle I selected is a battered “pillar” candle: the persevering soldier being the ever-strong pillar of our nation. A yellow ribbon bow, as always, symbolizes the hope for a joyous reunion.

The Holy Bible pays tribute to our founders’ desire for “one nation, under God” and the comforting faith that sustains through all trials.

The folded black napkin reminds us of the emptiness felt by loved ones of the lost. I chose to use a traditional silverware place setting minus one fork to show incompleteness caused by the absence of the missing service member.

Salt is drawn from endless tears shed; the simple cut lemon indicates the bitterness of so many soldiers’ fates.

The overturned glass indicates that the missing will not enjoy fellowship; even the light reflected in the glass seems to show bars of confinement, a reminder that the missing are often imprisoned by captors.

The empty chair set askew stands for the loved one not present and the fact that no one can fill that empty place.

The black POW/MIA flag is my own addition to the usual display, its poignant words “not forgotten” a thought we all can raise.

I hope that this still life has meaning for the viewer; it has caused me to reflect on the sacrifices that have been made for me.

A portion of proceeds from the sale of this print will be donated to the American Legion; contact Studio 3P for details.

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