Thank you for your service

Sherri Gardner HowellFarragut, Kitchen Table Talk

The young Marine and his wife were seated at one of the best tables in the house at Seattle’s Palisade restaurant. They overlooked Elliott Bay with the impressive Seattle skyline as a backdrop as evening rolled in.

With his wife looking elegant at his side, the young man was handsome in his dress blues. The one stripe on his uniform indicated he was a private first class. The two were obviously out for a special evening, as Palisade is a high-end Seattle restaurant.

My husband and I were there with our Seattle family because my son, Brett, is the Palisade Executive Chef. The presence of the young couple had not escaped his notice or the notice of the restaurant’s general manager. When I pointed them out to Brett, he said, “Yes, we have already told his server to comp their meals.”

The young couple had the same server we did. As dinner was drawing to a close, Brett checked in with T.J., making sure the dinner bill delivered to the couple would read “Amount due: $0.01.”

T.J. informed us that the situation had turned into an interesting dilemma. One of T.J.’s other tables had insisted on giving him $50 to go toward the couple’s bill. Patrons at three other tables wanted to pick up the dinner tab.

When told this and that the restaurant was also wanting to comp the meal, the young Marine was touched, said T.J., but told him that they had a $200 gift card from his aunt to have this dinner at Palisade. He was being deployed the next day, so this was their only chance to use the card in the foreseeable future.

Knowing the young man would be leaving his family in service of our country only heightened the resolve of those who wanted to do something. The couple was told to keep the gift card for a return celebration dinner, and that it would be honored no matter the expiration date. There would be no charge for this dinner.

Being the child of a man who lost his life flying for the U.S. Air Force, I teared up looking at the couple and hearing of the appreciation of the restaurant and its diners. Being a child of the ’60s, I once again felt shame at our misplaced anger and blame during the Vietnam War. No one bought meals or thanked those returning servicemen for their service, yet their sacrifices were just as intense. Yes, we have tried to go back, but it remains too little, too late.

Whatever sins we committed then, my prayers were always with those fighting for our country. My short time as an Air Force daughter and my own family’s sacrifice taught me to never forget to pray for our servicemen and women and especially for those who lead them.

My prayers go with this young Marine and his family. I hope he takes the goodwill of those at the restaurant with him and is soon back there to celebrate a safe homecoming.

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