By John Fefchak – Virden, Man.
At the 15 Wing Military Museum at CFB Moose Jaw, there’s an exhibit that symbolizes the sacrifices of our Air Force personnel.
In the darkened room, there is a small table with a single chair. Spread upon the table is a white tablecloth, a flower vase, a glass, and a small plate. A framed picture, faded by time, shows a large aircraft and several young airmen as they prepare for their next mission.
There is an envelope, edged in black, lying next to the picture. It is postmarked 1943. Hanging on the wall above the table is a printed explanation of the exhibit titled Missing Comrades. This I share with you. It reads:
Clad eternally in Air Force blue, they are our brothers and sisters who are unable to return to those they love. They are the airmen and airwomen of Canada who made the ultimate sacrifice in defence of freedom and whose earthly remains lie in cemeteries, on battlefields, and in countless places known only to God.
This table set for one is our way – the Air Force way – of honouring the memory and sacrifices of our comrades. Its small stature illustrates the frailty of our chosen profession.
The cloth is white, symbolizing the purity of our missing comrades’ motives when answering the call to duty.
The single rose reminds us of the life of each and of their loved ones and friends who kept the faith. The vase is tied with a red ribbon, a symbol of our continued determination to remember our missing comrades.
The slice of lemon is to remind us of the bitter fate that befell our missing comrades. A pinch of salt symbolizes the tears their families and loved ones have shed. The glass is inverted to symbolize their absence.
The waiting chair is not really empty; though not with us in body, they are present in spirit.
Per Ardua Ad Astra (Through adversity to the stars).