Ashland restaurant thanks war veterans for service

HANOVER, VA (WWBT) - Local war veterans recovering at McGuire Veteran's Hospital were honored during a special Memorial Day dinner. Famous Dave's Bar-B-Que in Ashland prepared and served 260 free meals to veterans and their families.

This is the second year for the Memorial Day tribute. Restaurant volunteers said it's making a tremendous impact on veterans recovering in the hospital.

Eternal love for her brother tethers Linda Therrien to McGuire Veteran's Hospital. Her 62-year old brother is a Vietnam veteran. He just had surgery to ease problems with his heart. The procedure, meant to be temporary.

"Hopefully we can get a donor heart," said Therrien, a Connecticut woman who is on her second month at The Fisher House, a place that offers free room and board for veteran's and their families. She is the lone supporter by her brother's bedside.

"Any holiday to be away from their families and their friends to support a loved one, and then to have someone else share the holiday with them, is really gratifying," said Therrien.

Sharing a special yet simple meal is what it's all about.

"It's who it's for today," said Matthew Fernandez the General Manager at Famous Dave's Restaurant in Ashland. "We are feeding the troops that are injured or veterans are injured and their families."

This is the second year Matthew Fernandez has rallied his troops.

"It's a heart-warming thing," said Fernandez as he stood in the restaurant's kitchen. "It honestly makes you feel good at the end of the day."

The idea is one that Warren Jones thought up years ago.

"Being a Vietnam veteran, we didn't receive the best welcome home and a lot of us decided the best thing to do was turn that into a good thing," said Jones.

Jones' mission is make veteran's feel like the war heroes they are, even if just for a day.

"These men here are still my brothers, and, they're my heroes," said Jones as he pointed to a photo of eight Word War II veterans. Hanging on the restaurant's walls, a photo of the men holding up signs that said thank you. The framed gift was given to the restaurant in 2010, during the first Memorial Day dinner.

"You have to excuse me," said Jones as he held back tears. "This is a pretty big deal for me. To be able to give back to people who gave so much for us."

From the catering truck to table, everything you can imagine on a Bar-B-Que menu. In total, 260 people, veterans and their families, were served and waited on.

"Sometimes we forget about the purpose of the holiday," said Fernandez.

Monday's dinner reminded Fernandez of the life he leads and the luxury of freedom.

For Jones, it's dishing out the welcome home he always wanted, "Thank a veteran. That's all. That's all we want is thanks."

And for Therrien, it's a moment of assurance that as her brother again fights for his life, his gift and service to the U.S. has not been forgotten.

"It makes me feel very, very good."

Copyright 2011 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.