Personally I feel, there is no way to repay all the brave men and women who risk their lives for our freedom and protection.Although one thing we can do is help them by praying for their safety, reaching out to their families, and supporting them, either financially or morally.
Sadly, there are too many military veterans who suffer in silence and are completely forgotten.When this elderly Vietnam veteran stopped at a restaurant for dinner, he saw a table of younger guys nearby.
He didn’t take any notice of them until the guys crowded his table one by one, continuously disrupting his meal.Soon, their conduct caught the attention of the entire restaurant as the veteran started to weep.
Lou Zezoff 74-year-old lives in Granite City, Illinois, along with his wife Annette.
Recently, they went out to eat at a Cracker Barrel and the couple was looking forward to having a good time together.As normal Lou was wearing his “US Navy Vietnam Veteran” cap when he went out.
The couple arrived at the restaurant and after being seated, Lou noticed five guys at a table.He wasn’t aware of it at the time, but the young men noticed Lou and his hat too, and they were going to make this one evening he’d never forget.
After Lou and his wife ordered, the young men sprung into action. Lou was just enjoying his meal quietly when one of the young men came over and stood at Lou’s table.
“I stood up,” Lou recalled as he came eye-to-eye with the guy. The young man threw out his hand wanted to thank Lou for his sacrifice.
The gesture caught Lou by shock; after all, it isn’t the type of scene that unfolds at dining establishments every day. Lou thought it stopped there, until the rest of the group stood up and showed their appreciation.
“I knew they were military by their haircuts — high and tight,” Lou said, explaining how he knew they were service members.
In fact, the young men were Marines.When the first man went back to his table, another came over to Lou. The veteran stood up again and didn’t know what was waiting for him.
The second young man then said, “I want to thank you for all five of us,” pointing to the others. Lou thanked the young men for the lovely words and they continued chatting.
Lou pointed out his appreciation and was wishing every one of the men well with their future military experiences. From that point onward, he came back to his feast, believing that was all of it.
Shortly after Lou and his wife competed their meal, he requested for a waiter to bring over the check.When the waiter arrived to their table, he was holding the bill with a big smile on his face, and said, “This is your lucky day.”
The young Marines had paid for Lou’s dinner.There was also a message on the receipt. One of the Marines had wrote “Semper Fi” on the top with an “Oorah!” at the bottom.
Lou, completely taken by surprise, went over to their table and insisted they didn’t have to pay for his dinner. A simple “thank you” was quite enough.
“You don’t have to do this. I know, being in the military, you don’t make a lot of money,” Lou told them. But the Marines stood firm.“They wanted me to know how much they appreciated me,” Lou said.
As Lou and Annette were about to leave, something else happened that left all other guests in awe.Knowing they were about to part ways, the young Marines wanted to give the veteran one last show of respect.
As the fifth man was off paying the bill, the other four approached Lou’s table and extended their hand to shake the veteran’s one last time, he describes, with tears in his eyes.
Individually each of them thanked and hugged.
“They filed in front of my table, stood in line, and each one of them again put his hand out, shook my hand, thanked me, hugged me, and walked to my right”, Lou recalled.
The atmosphere in the restaurant, which once was noisy and chatty, was replaced with an quiet as others watched the Marines’ conduct.
After the fourth Marine gave Lou “the sharpest salute” he’d ever seen, they turned and walked out. Lou was in ”awe” and felt the deepest gratitude for the men who so emphatically expressed their appreciation for his service.
“The room got very quiet. Everyone was looking,” Lou said, wiping a tear from the corner of his eye. “Sorry … I still tear up when I talk about this. …”
Others stood and payed their respects.Lou couldn’t help but turn to his wife, who said he better sit down and catch his breath after the amazing moment. Lou’s wife Annette was moved by the scene.
“It just speaks volumes for the military. I thought of my son, who is retired Air Force, and the people who thank him for his service. It’s rewarding to see that the military is so strong and so polite.”
According to Belleville News, the five Marines were later named as Kevin Morris, Val Diaz, Eric A. Morales, Victor M. Andrade Gomez, and Elijah Reynolds… all private first class.
When the paper reached out for comment, they simply said it was the right thing to do.“He fought for us. Now it’s our turn,” said the 21-year-old Pfc. Diaz, from Texas.
Lou Zezoff served in the Navy from 1959 to 1963. During Vietnam, Lou, an E5 (Petty Officer Second Class), served on the aircraft carrier USS Coral Sea in 1961 and ’62.
He was designated a parachute rigger, but served as a plane captain. He was responsible for a plane from pre-flight checks until it returned to the ship.
After the service, when Lou returned to a civil life, he continued to serve as a police officer for 32 years. He became a detective in the 1970s, then later worked court security with the U.S. Marshal’s Service before he would be retiring in 1996.
Lou Zezoff’s narrative tells us how important it is to show our appreciation for those who have served and that even the smallest gesture can make a big impact.
These young Marines act at the restaurant certainly made a mark on this veteran’s life, as can be seen below.
These brave young men and women deserve our respect and gratitude as it’s the least we do for those who risk their lives in exchange of our freedoms and protection!
We should be thankful for what our veterans have accomplished for all of us. Their commitment to our nation is a great sacrifice which caused great distance from their loved ones.
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