America’s White Table

America's White 9781585362165_p0_v2_s260x420America’s White Table

Margot Theis Raven, Author

Mike Benny, Illustrator

Sleeping Bear Press, Fiction, 2005

Suitable for Ages: 5-10

Themes: Veterans Day, Remembering our fallen soldiers, Symbolism

Synopsis:  It is Veterans Day and Katie’s mother has invited her Uncle John for dinner.  She explains to Katie and her two sisters that they will  be setting a separate little table,  just like the ones that will be set in  Air Force, Army, Marine Corps and Navy dining halls across America to honor the men and women who have served their country.  Mama gets out a white table-cloth,  a single empty  chair, a white plate, silver ware, a black napkin, an overturned glass, a white candle and a red rose in a vase tied with a red ribbon.  She explains the significance of each item on the table, and what it will mean to Uncle John.

Much to Katie and her sister’s surprise, they learn a special story about their favorite uncle from their mother.  Uncle John was on a rescue mission in Vietnam when his helicopter was shot down over enemy territory.  He was taken as a Prisoner of War (POW).  Uncle John found an opportunity to escape and carried his wounded friend on his back to safety.  He was a hero.

Katie and her sisters are in awe when they hear the story.  Katie stares at the little white table and feels there is something missing.  The girls come up with a special idea and surprise their uncle at dinner.  Uncle John is moved beyond words by their loving gesture.

Why I like this book:  Once again I am sharing a book I reviewed several years ago before I had following.  This is an outstanding book that will touch the hearts of young and old alike.  It is a time to remember and honor those who are not with us.  I was delighted to find a book about this very simple, but deeply meaningful tradition observed by service members for over 35 years.  Few civilians are familiar with the symbolism.  It seemed the perfect book to share again on Veterans Day.  Raven tells a moving story, and at the end  provides a detailed history of the origin of the White Table and how it became a symbol of caring for our MIA and POW service members after the Vietnam War.  Benny’s subdued pastel paintings add to the mood of the solemn occasion that transcends generations.

Resource:  Click here to lean how to set America’s White Table.  Also visit Margot Theis Raven at her website.

About Patricia Tiltonhttps://childrensbooksheal.wordpress.comI want "Children's Books Heal" to be a resource for parents, grandparents, teachers and school counselors. My goal is to share books on a wide range of topics that have a healing impact on children who are facing challenges in their lives. If you are looking for good books on grief, autism, visual and hearing impairments, special needs, diversity, bullying, military families and social justice issues, you've come to the right place. I also share books that encourage art, imagination and creativity. I am always searching for those special gems to share with you. If you have a suggestion, please let me know.

19 thoughts on “America’s White Table

  1. I remember learning about this tradition for the first time from your first review. It’s such a moving story and ritual. Thanks for sharing and reminding us.


    • It has been a couple of years, so I thought I’d share it again after I saw my stats over the weekend and saw 101 people had searched for the review on my site. This ritual is observed on Veteran’s Day, but also at formal military/community dinners held on bases. Always a solemn moment.


  2. I’ve never heard of this tradition. I like traditions and this sounds like a lovely one. I guess I need to find the book and learn what all those things mean. Thanks for sharing this one Ms Tilton. Truly something new and interesting.


    • Erik, this observation started after the Vietnam War. I shared it again, because I knew a lot of people hadn’t seen it when I ran it several years ago. Barbara Gruener celebrates it with her first grade team. It’s a lovely rememberance. And, I worked for the AF, so I am very familiar with the white table.


  3. I was at a program to honor Veterans at the school where five of my grandchildren attend. The 3rd grade performed a skit as their teacher read the book about the American White Table. She could barely get through it. It was a very good program.
    I hve never heard about it before. I am a Veteran from the Vietnam war. That was the best Veterans program I have been to in many years.


    • Bill, thank you for visiting my blog and leaving a comment. I’m not surprised you didn’t know about the White Table. My brother was a Vietnam vet and I doubt he knows. The military began the ceremony after the war. I worked for the AF, so I was very familiar with the custom as we used it at big base/community dinners. And, of course it is honored in the mess hall. It is a moving ceremony. I’m so glad there is a book for children.


  4. Pingback: Lone Place Setting -America’s White Table–You Are Not Forgotten | Love You More Than You Know

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