Veterans gathered Monday night to be recognized for their service. In an annual tradition, Golden Corral restaurants offered former and active members of the US military a free dinner. The event has become about more than the meal, but also conversation and camaraderie.
It was a time to reflect on some old memories.
“I had the pleasure of meeting one of my comrades, and we really had a good time reminiscing about Korea. I have a lot of pictures saved and I brought them out tonight so I could show anyone who may be interested,” said Korean War veteran Fred Johnson, Sr.
The Golden Corral offered a free meal to members to those who have served our country; something our veterans said, they don’t take for granted.
Many recall their days on the battlefield, and think about those who are now serving in Iraq and Afghanistan; places where violence continues and future military strategy is stirring debate.
“If I got to go, I’ll go. I’ll do whatever I have to for my country,” said Iraq War veteran Benjamin Kinkaide.
“We continue to lose our men, to no gain, as far as I can see. I’m not that well versed in the history of it, but I don’t see anything that’s really come out of it,” said Johnson.
It was the ninth year of the event that has served more than two-million meals for vets, including about 3,500 at its two Wilmington locations a year ago. Each year the event grows, in size and importance to those who have served.
“I think about them most every afternoon and every night. Wherever the military is, I’m one hundred percent for the military,” said Korean War veteran Laurence Stanley.
The folks at the Golden Corral on New Center Drive in Wilmington said they began serving vets an hour and a half before the event actually started because of the turnout. By 8:00 p.m. they had served about 1,600 veterans.