"Why not?" I'd asked, ever curious.
"Because that's the seat for the ones who can't be here," he replied. "It's always kept empty for them."
Twenty years later, I had dinner at the Returned Servicemen's Club with some work colleagues. After the playing of Taps, we sat, and I noticed again the empty chair at the head of the table. As a child I had imagined it as being haunted and had half-expected to see the ghost of a soldier, killed overseas. As an adult, I knew it was haunted, in a different way; it was haunted by memories, of those lost in the service of their country, or in the years beyond. Gone, but never forgotten, there will always be a place left for them.