Visitors to the Hutchinson Regional Medical Center Cafeteria will notice a particularly special table near the entrance which is round and covered in a white tablecloth. The table is designed to honor the heroes who served our nation’s armed forces and are missing in action. This annual marker, part of The Missing Man or Fallen Comrade Project, is timely as we prepare to observe Memorial Day on Monday.
Raleigh White, Director, Imaging Services at Hutchinson Regional Medical Center, and a veteran of the Air Force, spearheads the project each year.
As Raleigh points out, visitors to the exhibit will notice a number of distinguishing features regarding the table and its contents.
- The table is round to show the nation’s concern for its fallen comrades.
- The tablecloth is white, symbolizing the purity of the veterans’ motives.
- A single red rose reminds us of the life of each of these fallen heroes and the loved ones and friends who kept the faith.
- A vase is tied with a red ribbon, a symbol of our continued determination to remember our fallen comrades.
- A yellow ribbon is tied to a candle symbolic of the loyalty waiting for those serving abroad.
- A slice of lemon on the bread plate reminds us of the bitter fate of those who will never return.
- A pinch of salt symbolizes the tears endured by those who have sacrificed all.
- A Bible represents the strength gained through faith to sustain those lost from our country.
- An inverted glass is symbolic of those who cannot toast with us at this time.
- An empty chair is draped with a POW flag signifying the veterans who are no longer with us.
Ken Johnson, President and CEO of Hutchinson Regional Healthcare System (HRHS), said the display reminds an appreciative nation of the sacrifices made by veterans. “More than one million members of the military have given their lives to defend our freedom in the 238 years following the end of the Revolutionary War,” Johnson said. “The Defense Department reports that 72,598 Americans remain missing in action as a result of conflicts fought during the past 80 years. Many of us know or are connected to a family member or friend who remains unaccounted for. For me, visiting the display was a somber experience and reaffirmed my appreciation for the service of our veterans.”
A two-sentence statement from an unknown author sums up the magnitude of the display: “Let us remember and never forget their sacrifice. May they and their families ever be watched over and protected.”
Also, Johnson pointed out that numerous HRHS employees are veterans and active members of the military. “We can never thank our veterans enough for all they have done to preserve our way of life,” Johnson said. “Let’s all take a moment in the next several days to thank veterans for their service.”
Veterans who are on the job at Hutchinson Regional on Memorial Day will be treated to a complimentary meal in the hospital cafeteria.
Entities within Hutchinson Regional Medical Center are Health-E-Quip, Horizons Mental Health Center, Hospice & HomeCare of Reno County, Hutchinson Regional Medical Foundation and Hutchinson Regional Medical Center.