Alva Review-Courier -

BJCC honors veterans


November 14, 2019

Veterans attending the Bill Johnson Correctional Center program for Veterans Day include inmates, prison employees and guests.

Staff, volunteer and inmate veterans were honored at a celebration of those in faithful service at Bill Johnson Correctional Center in Alva. Several guests attended to enjoy the program.

Veterans Day began on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918. President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed November 11th to commemorate the soldiers who fought in World War I. The day was originally known as Armistice Day for the day an armistice was declared between the Allied nations and Germany in WWI.

Guest speaker Eldon Greer, Army quartermaster, served for 28 years. He trained many of the soldiers who entered combat during the wars of Vietnam and Grenada. Greer commented he often wonders how many of those soldiers returned. Greer also expressed honor and appreciation to a multitude of his family members for also serving our country.

Guest speaker Scotty Cox, Navy master of arms, served for 22 years. Cox was stationed aboard two aircraft carriers; USS Constellation and USS John C Stennis. Cox began by asking the guests, "Who is a veteran?" He continued by saying, "You will have to ask the veteran. We all have our different stories and reasons why we made the choice to serve." Cox then shared a quote from an unknown author: "It is a person who at one point in their life wrote a blank check made payable to the United States of America for the amount of up to and including THEIR LIFE." Cox wrote that check and though his service is no longer active, he will tell you he still has the heart of a servant. Cox is currently the Commander of the American Legion Post 92, here in Alva.

During the program a POW/MIA table signified remembrance of prisoners of war and missing in action service men and women. Displayed at military events, the small, round table is always set but never occupied. The manner in which this table is decorated is full of special symbols to help us remember our brothers and sisters in arms.

The white table cloth draped over the table represents the purity of their response to our country's call to arms.

TOP LEFT: Scotty Cox, who served in the Navy, speaks during the Veterans Day program at Bill Johnson Correctional Center in Alva. TOP RIGHT: Army veteran Eldon Greer speaks during the BJCC Veterans Day program. BOTTOM: The POW/MIA table: A place setting for one, a table for all. Displayed at military events, the small round table that is always set but never occupied – the prisoners of war/missing in action table. The manner in which this table is decorated is full of special symbols to help us remember our brothers and sisters in arms.

The empty chair depicts an unknown face, representing no specific soldier, sailor, airman or Marine, but all who are not here with us.

The table itself is round to show that our concern for them is never ending.

The Bible represents faith in a higher power and the pledge to our county, founded as one nation under God.

The black napkin stands for the emptiness these warriors have left in the hearts of their families and friends. A Purple Heart medal can be pinned to the napkin.

The single red rose reminds us of their families and loved ones. The red ribbon represents the love of our country, which inspired them to answer the nation's call.

The yellow candle and its yellow ribbon symbolize the everlasting hope for a joyous reunion with those yet accounted for.

The slices of lemon on the bread plate remind us of their bitter fate.

The salt upon the bread plate represent the tears of their families.

The wine glass, turned upside down, reminds us that our distinguished comrades cannot be with us to drink a toast or join in the festivities of the evening.

This table reminds us that the strength of those who fight for our country oftentimes rests in the traditions that are upheld today.


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