Even though it has been almost 8 years since I separated from the army, it still means a lot when people take a moment to say “Happy Veterans’ Day.” I am extremely fortunate to have wonderful friends and family that sent cards, picked up the phone, typed emails, or even sent a simple text message to thank me for my service. Those two simple words…thank you…mean a great deal to veterans. Don’t ever discount that due to the simplicity of the gesture. It means a lot when those close to you take a moment to express their gratitude. Interestingly enough, it was seemingly more meaningful when complete strangers recently did the same thing.
Every year, there are a lot of businesses that offer free meals and/or special discounts for veterans. I applaud all of the participating businesses for their gesture of appreciation and I wish that more companies would follow their lead. This past Veterans’ Day, I was overwhelmed by the generosity of others (both corporate and individuals). To begin with, I was treated to a free bagel from Einstein Bros. Bagels for lunch and a fabulous entrée at McCormick & Schmicks for dinner. McCormick & Schmicks honors veterans every year and I enjoy going there because their food is delicious. This year, I went solo because my husband was working and since I was by myself, I ended up sitting at the bar. The bartender asked if I was a veteran (so he could provide the special Veterans’ Day menu) and when I answered in the affirmative several people at the bar chimed in to thank me for my service. There were other veterans there, of course, and I thanked them for their service as well. It ended up being a wonderful dinner with complete strangers. People who know me well would probably be surprised by that because I am usually very quiet around people that I don’t know very well. Nonetheless, I enjoyed conversation with veterans from every war era, as well as civilians who never served. As I was saying my goodbyes to my fellow diners, the woman next to me, Ruth, shook my hand and then pulled me in for a hug. Those who know me well, also know that I am not a touchy-feely kind of person. Generally speaking, I do not like a lot of physical contact…especially with strangers. But for some reason, I genuinely welcomed the hug from this woman I had just met. It was so sincere. It was her way of both thanking me for my service, as well as expressing how grateful she was that I made it home safe and sound. I felt all of that just from this woman’s hug. I left the restaurant that night with a huge smile on my face and a warmth in my heart. The free meal was nice, but the appreciation of others was priceless.
Because Veterans’ Day fell on a Sunday this year, the federally observed holiday became Monday, November 12. Some of the participating businesses were offering special deals to veterans on Sunday, while others were doing so on Monday. A few over-achievers were even offering specials on both days! On Monday, Rob and I went out for lunch at California Pizza Kitchen and they treated me to a free pizza and a free drink. As we were getting ready to leave, the manager came by to shake my hand and thank me for my service and as if that wasn’t awesome enough….he gave Rob and I both an additional coupon for a free pizza at a later date!
As if my body actually needed more calories for the day, we went to Champps for dinner on Monday because they were offering a free cheeseburger and fries to vets. I just happened to be wearing my “I ‘heart’ my paramedic” shirt and the manager on duty that night was also a paramedic. To make a long story short, that shirt led to Rob getting the same Veterans’ Day treatment that I had been enjoying for the past 36 hours.
However, what actually made my Veterans’ Day even more special was that I received my first email from one of the soldiers that I adopted in Afghanistan. He received the care package that I sent him just in time for Veterans’ Day. It really was the perfect way to end my Veterans’ Day festivities, going full circle, if you will. I felt like I was given the royal treatment for two whole days and it was nice to pass along my own appreciation to those still serving. Did you thank a veteran this past Veterans’ Day?
The restaurants mentioned above are just a few of the businesses that offered special discounts for veterans. To see the full list, click here.