Saturday, November 12, 2011

A Special Veterans Day Experience

Who knew what would be in store for Wilma and I this day, 11/11/11 Veterans Day.

I being a US Navy Veteran always had a special feeling deep down on this day and Memorial Day. But this day was to become a very special day for Wilma and I.

Wilma and I had talked early in the morning about going to Applebee's for dinner as they were honoring all Veterans with a free meal. Not that I’m a cheepo, or one who only looks for freebees, but I just felt that this would be a great time for Wilma and I to enjoy a dinner together.

We also had talked about going over to my brother Ken’s home, as he was having an open house for his son Kenny, his wife Jami and son Bryan, who were home on leave from the Marine’s.

Around 4:30 we left for Applebee’s. Arriving there we noticed that they had erected a small tent enclosure to handle the over flow of customers. The parking lot was full but we were lucky to find a spot just as a well satisfied customer was leaving.

Walking into the vestibule, I noticed a young vet with a Navy sweatshirt on. I gave him the thumbs up and told him I was also in the Navy. That was about the end of our conversation, as I proceeded to give my name to the Applebee’s gal putting me on the waiting list.

After a couple minutes, Wilma and I moved into the restaurant to wait, much warmer than the vestibule, or the tent outside. We were only there about 5 minutes when my name was called!

I was asked if we would mind sharing a table with another party of two. I said no I didn’t mind if they didn’t mind, not knowing at this time who we were going to share the table with. We were led to our table along with the young Navy man wearing the sweatshirt that I briefly talked to in the vestibule!

Arriving at our table, the four of us introduced each other. Sat down and immediately had conversation.

What a wonderful time the four of us had. Never a dull moment during the meal and each of us had a turn at conversation. Wilma and I met through a blind date, so did they. Something to say about blind  dates huh? Told them of our plans to go to Florida in March, he said his Father lives in Naples, FL. the very city we were going to. I told them about my working experience since I left the Navy, and retiring from General Dynamics, a defense contractor for the TACOM. He said his Uncle works for TACOM and knew all about the contracts with GD. He told us about his working experience since leaving the Navy, starting out working on a farm in Yale, MI and ending up working for the VA Hospital in Ann Arbor, MI. where he is presently employed. We found it amusing when he said he was one of the “older” of employees at the hospital. Then we found out that he was 28! 

Here we were, sitting with complete strangers almost 40 years younger than us, and the four of us enjoying each others company so tremendously during our dinner! Amazing to me, just amazing!

As we finished, we shook each others hands and bid farewell, we turned and as we walked away I knew that we would probably never have an experience like that ever again. Taking notice of all the Veterans in the restaurant, some eating, some waiting for a table, some alone, some with their families, you just couldn’t help but feel the comradery and the feeling of belonging.

Walking outside to the car, a couple asked if we enjoyed our dinner. Turning around was a couple walking to their car, about the same age group as us. We told them of the experience we just had and he said he also was in the Navy! Asking what year he said 69 to 73. I shook his hand and told him 68 to 72 US Navy and we departed company. Wow, another “small world” moment came to Wilma and I.

Thank You Applebee’s for honoring the Veterans on this Veterans day!

We left and visited with family at Ken’s home, concentrating on Kenny and his future plans as a Marine. The little nephew of mine has turned out to be quite an honorable man! Good luck and be safe Kenny!

Until next time, be safe and God Bless.


  1. that got me a teary eyed....I love stories like this and I love my veteran father....THANK YOU DAD - I LOVE YOU!


  2. What a great post Fred... I enjoyed your story very much. Hopefully we'll get a chance to meet you as you come to Florida next March however we are on the west coast near St. Petersburg.
    Have fun & Travel safe

  3. Thanks for your service, I too served in The Navy 66-70 in a rescue helicopter squadron. We had the same experience in Branson last week what a great city to visit as a veteran, met a guy I flew with 42 years ago, small world indeed. Be safe out there. Sam & Donna...

  4. I loved reading this post! Thanks!

  5. What a great chance meeting. That made for a great veteran's Day!

  6. Thank You for serving our country. I appreciate your service and thank the good lord everyday that I live in a free country. It's only free because of the wonderful people like yourself .
    I am so very PROUD to be an AMERICAN

  7. What a great time this must have been! We were hoping to make it to Applebee's for their special but, unfortunately, could not make it. Maybe next time.

    Thank you for your service to our country and all of us!!