It’s something we’ve never done before.
For the last few years, Papa and I have noticed that on Veterans Day, several eating establishments offer free meals to veterans and those currently serving our country in the military.
As a former serviceman, my husband sincerely appreciates those efforts to honor fellow vets, but we’ve never taken advantage of the offers. Some retailers also give veterans discounts on November 11 and Papa has used that service in the past.
But yesterday, with our daughter and baby granddaughter in tow, we decided to visit Applebee’s, one of the many eateries honoring Veterans Day, for dinner.
And wow, we were surprised! Papa left work a tad early and the three of us met him at a nearby Applebee’s that happens to be across the street from a Veterans Hospital. And I felt immediate regret that I didn’t bring my camera along.
A completely full parking lot and a crowd of folks waiting outside the restaurant was the first surprise.
This was one busy place but it warmed our hearts to see so many elderly gentlemen, some with canes or walkers, even wheelchairs, patiently waiting to be seated. So many of our honored vets in one place truly humbled me.
I scanned the crowd and these were the things I noticed. A slow moving white-haired gentleman dressed in suit jacket and tie with a baseball cap identifying him as a World War II veteran. Others with US Army or Navy logos on hats or jackets.
One retired man sported his red Marines sweatshirt and ball cap. Still others wore Vietnam vets insignia of some kind. Active duty servicemen in their uniforms were also spotted enjoying their free dinner.
And I wanted to run up to each and every one of these fine Americans and say, “Thank you, thank you, thank you, because of you, I live in a free country!”
All military honorees, all in one place, a wonderful sight to behold.
Noticing scads of small American flags completely surrounding the establishment and waving gently in the slight breeze was yet another surprise. Folks were greeted by members of a local American Legion who audibly thanked each person for their service. I’m not sure how many hours those men and ladies stood at their posts.
Yet another surprise. Two young men stood at the entrance to the establishment and opened the double doors for each and every person who entered or departed.
An empty table of honor sat front and center as we entered the restaurant, a poignant reminder of those veterans who gave the ultimate sacrifice.
The Applebee’s staff were on ‘high alert’ mode as they seated people quickly and efficiently and treated each customer with kindness and honor. We enjoyed a delicious meal and Papa relished his free steak.
Our waitress gave us excellent service and she made sure to thank my husband for his time of duty to our country. Papa was also given a discount card to use on another visit, which some may call smart marketing, but I choose to be thankful for this small gift.
All around us were smiling faces. Even grandbaby sitting in her highchair was happy. And I felt blessed to be there. I felt blessed to be an American. I felt blessed that so many men and women consider it an honor and their duty to protect and serve this country we live in, the land of the free and the home of the brave.
I felt honored to be among those Americans who took this oath with no hesitation or concern for their own well-being, those who sacrificed much for this country and for each of us:
“I, _____, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.” (Title 10, US Code; Act of 5 May 1960 replacing the wording first adopted in 1789, with amendment effective 5 October 1962).
Applebee’s Veterans Day promotion read like this: “Every Veterans Day, Applebee’s invites vets and active duty military to come have a meal on us. It’s our way of saying thanks for their service. But, really, every day is an opportunity to say thank you. So, join us in our Thank You Movement to personally show your gratitude for those who have served, or are currently serving, in our military.”
This veteran’s family appreciates Applebee’s involvement in the Thank You Movement, thanking and honoring our military.
But really, Applebee’s, we thank YOU.
“The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding, go out to meet it.” — Thucydides
(P.S. I have not been given any compensation for writing this; I just truly appreciate Applebee’s, and all other establishments, who support the Thank You Movement.)