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By: Len Kiese
November 17, 2008
Albany-- It was a filling, wholesome way to pay back the brave men and women of the United States military. For the 8th year, the Golden Corral restaurant chain saluted America's heroes with a free meal to say thank you.
Sometimes it just takes a good meal to bring old friends together. "Well I just wanted to see some buddies of mine. There goes one right yonder," said Navy veteran Jesse Piland.
It brings together all kinds of friends, all with different stories to tell. There are stories about war. "I can see it just like today," said Piland. And there are stories on just plain old life in the military. "A lot of times this is the only time we get to see each other," said Marine Corps Veteran George Howard.
These military friends are trading those war and fighting stories over hot, heaping plates of food. "All kinds of stuff, roast beef, ham, turkey," said Golden Corral General Manager Cheri Brown.
It's a meal of appreciation. "We just want to tell them thank you and tell them we appreciate everything they've done for us," said Brown.
Over the past several years, Golden Corral has said thank you to members of the United States military by giving away nearly 2-million free meals. "A lot of people don't appreciate the veterans or don't really think about what they've done for us. The reason we're free to do what we want is because of the veterans," said Howard.
They are America's heroes who risked their lives. "I didn't mind fighting or whatever I had to do to defend my country," said Army veteran Johnny W. Hunt.
For that fighting, they don't mind a little food. "Get a little dividend for my military service," said Hunt.
It's an incentive they wait for every year. "I'm looking forward to this meal in here and getting together with other veterans," said Alvin G. Wallace, Navy Veteran.
There's nothing like breaking bread with old buddies. But as they eat, a place is set for the ones who couldn't make it.