Veterans Day: Manassas restaurant gives free meal for 13th year

MANASSAS, Va. (WJLA) – Monday evenings aren’t considered an especially busy time in the restaurant business, but on Veterans Day, the lines at The Golden Corral were 150 feet out the door.

But it is controlled chaos inside the Manassas restaurant for a good reason. For the 13th year,{ } the restaurant is serving a free meal to past and present America’s military heroes on Veterans Day.

"I have the Bronze Star, Purple Heart and five Air Medals," says Vietnam vet Robert Hawkins, who adds that breaking bread with so many former and active service members is an honorable and shared experience. "I'm just proud to be here with all these other veterans."

But this salute is about more than free trips to the buffet. This event has raised nearly $8 million nationwide for the Disabled American Veterans organization -- helping vets get disability claims, medical assistance, and even housing, since many of them don't exactly know what they are entitled to receive.

Frances and Thomas Kennedy have been coming to this event for years – they met during the Korean War and have been together ever since.

"I think it's marvelous that they do this. I don't think people appreciate veterans as much as they should," they say.

But those who served this country will tell you that with every passing Veterans Day, it’s getting better.