The Toast to Fallen Comrades is a military wedding tradition
I run into all kinds of thoughtful traditions at weddings and recently I found one that stood out – it was an experience I’ll not soon forget. The groom, Jacques, is a proud member of the Canadian Military and has seen his share of duty overseas. At their wedding, Jacques had a single-seated table set up to the side. I came to find out it was in memory of his fellow fallen soldiers. During their speeches, he explained the reason for the table as well as the reason for each item included in the setting. I asked Jacques to share his speech/explanation and he graciously agreed…
We knew them, we’ll remember them, and they will not be forgotten. To our fallen comrades!
THE PLACE SETTING
Many guests will notice the small table set for one in the room. This is the Toast to Fallen Comrades and the following will help explain the significance of the setting….
“You may have noticed the small table set for one that is off on its own – it is reserved to honour our fallen comrades in arms. This symbolizes that they are here with us in spirit. We should never forget the brave men and women who answered our nation’s call and served the cause of freedom in a special way. We are ever mindful that the sweetness of enduring peace has always been tainted by the bitterness of personal sacrifice. We are compelled to never forget that while we enjoy our daily pleasures, there are others who have endured the agonies of pain, deprivation and death.
I would like to explain the meaning of the items on this special table.
- The table is round – to show our everlasting concern for our fallen comrades.
- The tablecloth is white – symbolizing the purity of their motives when answering the call to duty.
- The single red rose, displayed in a vase, reminds us of the life of each of our fallen comrades, and the loved ones and friends of these comrades who keep the faith.
- The vase is tied with a red ribbon, symbol of our continued determination to remember our fallen comrades.
- A slice of lemon on the bread plate is to remind us of the bitter fate of those who will never return.
- A pinch of salt symbolizes the tears endured by the families of those who have sacrificed all.
- The Holy Book represents the strength gained through faith to sustain those lost from our country.
- The glass is inverted, they cannot toast with us at this time.
- The chair is empty because they are no longer with us.
Let us remember – and never forget their sacrifice. May they and their families ever be watched over and protected.”
TABLE SETUP AND PLACE SETTING:
- A small table
- Empty chair
- White tablecloth
- Lit candle
- Single place setting, preferably all white
- Wine glass, inverted
- Salt shaker
- Slice of lemon on bread plate with a pile of spilled salt
- Small bud vase wrapped in a red ribbon with a single stem red rose
PROPOSING THE TOAST
The following is a suggested Toast to Fallen Comrades:
“Let us give thanks for the many blessings we have received. Let us give thanks for the security of Canada and for the freedoms we enjoy and experience every day. However, let us also remember the great price that has been paid for that freedom.
We knew them. They lived, they felt, they were as vibrant, as energetic, as immortal as you and I. They were brave. They fell for peace and for freedom in the service of their country. Many may argue about the futility of death and of war, but one should never forget that they died, not in vain, but in honour.
Many times through the years our country has called, and many men and women have answered the call. Let us not forget our fallen comrades, but remember them always, for they have earned our respect and admiration with their lives.
We knew them, we remember them, and they will not be forgotten. To our fallen comrades!”