TA, Petro and TA Express restaurants, including Country Pride and Iron Skillet, set a table for fallen soldiers during military holidays.
A Fallen Soldier’s Table, also known as a Missing Man Table or Fallen Comrade table, is a way to remember and honor the sacrifice of the men and women who gave their lives protecting our freedom.
The Fallen Soldier’s table has a few basic elements, but each display is completely unique. It starts with a small table set for one, symbolizing the isolation of the absent service member. Its seat is empty to bring attention to the missing guest. The table is usually set in the front of the restaurant, near the entrance to the dining room.
Head covers are sometimes placed on the table to represent the service of specific individuals. Other times, restaurant staff will add a red ribbon to represent the love of country that inspires military members to serve our country every day. And a lit candle acts as a symbol of hope.
The Country Pride restaurant in the TA located in Columbia, New Jersey was so moved by the Fallen Soldiers’ Table that they now display it all year long. This is a tradition they’ve kept since the site was dedicated to Citizen Driver, Norman Knight, in 2014.
“Anyone who knows Norman knows he is very big into supporting our POW and MIA soldiers’ honor and loved ones. Norman even goes on bike rallies and helps raise money for POW,” said Columbia Country Pride general manager, Hope Bianchi. “When we took our table down after Labor Day one year, Norman came to me and asked if I would put the table back up for Thanksgiving because he was going to a rally, riding from upstate New York to the Jersey shore. He wanted to stop by our restaurant with the other veterans and show them our tribute.”