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Because of a heavy rain that lasted all day, a long canopy was erected leading from the White House to the tent on the South Lawn.
Traditional protocol would dictate that a receiving line be held as people entered the tent so that every guest could meet the President and Mrs. Nixon before sitting down for dinner. 
But as the President pointed out in his remarks to the POWs earlier that afternoon, the receiving line would have lasted more than three hours, making everyone miss dinner. 
To laughter from the POWs, he said, “You missed enough meals in Hanoi without missing one in the White House tonight.”

Lewis Shattuck, wearing a distinctive American flag eye patch, arriving at the dinner in honor of the returning POWs.  Shattuck was shot down over North Vietnam on July 11, 1966 and was imprisoned until February 12, 1973.

Invitation, menu, program and seating card from the event.  The invitation and seating card were saved by Samuel Mattix, one of 25 civilians held as a prisoner of war.  Mattix was a missionary working in Laos when he was taken captive.

Seating chart floor plan, May 24, 1973. This chart shows the seating arrangements at the White House dinner honoring the returning prisoners of war.  Accompanying the seating chart is a list of the attendees at each table.



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