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Library White Table display

From left, Jeannette Hammons, library director; Les Brown, POW/MIA Elko Awareness Association director; Katie Bryant, POW/MIA Elko Awareness Association assistant public affairs officer; and Ladonna Gunn, children's librarian, stand behind the Elko County Library's White Table display Wednesday.

Dylan Woolf Harris/Elko Daily Free Press

ELKO — A table is set with a plate of salt and a lemon slice. An upturned glass and a black napkin are near the plate, as well as a white candle and a vase holding a rose, all on top of a stark white tablecloth.

Conspicuously absent from the scene is a person.

In observance of Veterans Day, the Elko County Library set up the display, which is a recognized way of honoring service members who died, were captured as prisoners as war or went missing in combat.

Director Jeannette Hammons said the library wanted to make sure the community remembered the significance of the holiday.

“We just need to keep this in the forefront of people’s minds,” she said. The library has set up the display three years in a row. It will remain up through next week. Residents can see the display and read pamphlets on the subject by visiting the library.

LaDonna Gunn, children’s librarian, selected books for story time that are fitting for the occasion.

On the table, the library propped up “America’s White Table,” by Margot Theis Raven and illustrated by Mike Benny.

In the story, a family sets up a white table for their Uncle John. The eldest daughter tries to figure what she can do.

“And so she writes the word ‘Hero’ in the salt on the plate,” Gunn said. “That was her way of honoring her uncle and his experience as a POW.”

In addition to “America’s White Table,” Gunn has read “The Wall” written by Eve Bunting and illustrated by Ronald Himler.

The White Table, also called the Missing Man Table, has been displayed in military settings nationally and is uniformly decorated. Each piece of the scene symbolizes a characteristic or emotion felt by service members or their loved ones.

The lemon slice and salt represent a soldier’s bitter fate. The black napkin stand for sorrow. The white cloth is for the service member’s pure heart. The white candle is for peace. The red rose in a vase tied with a red ribbon symbolizes hope loved ones feel that the missing person will return, according to literature on the library’s display.

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POW/MIA Elko Awareness Association Director Les Brown said he appreciated the library’s involvement and support.

The library set up a poster for Sgt. Bowe Robert Bergdahl, the only known living POW, who was captured in June 2009 in Afghanistan, Brown said.

“He is still currently a prisoner of war in Afghanistan somewhere. We do know that he is still alive, but that’s about all we know right now,” Brown said.

The POW/MIA Elko Awareness Association meets 7 p.m. on the second and fourth Friday each month at City Hall.

“Everybody’s welcome,” Brown said.

Story time at the library is 10:30 a.m. Thursday at the library.

For information, call 738-3066 or visit


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