A free meal honoring those who fight for freedom

By Krystal Allan – bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Veterans Day might have passed but the community's efforts to honor our military continues.  Monday night the men and women who bravely serve for our freedom got served with a free meal at Golden Corral off Highway 49 in Gulfport.

Despite the occasional shower, police stayed busy directing traffic as lines snaked out the door of the restaurant.

"I didn't think it'd be this big with the weather. We're just excited to serve these people," says Randy Savala, kitchen manager.

Those who dined in say receiving the free meal with all the fixing was worth the time it took to sit down and enjoy it.

"Waiting in line is a small price to pay for the goodness of their hearts," says James Lewis, retired military.

Issac Hurliss, an active duty air force member said "It's a wonderful thing to see what members of the community think of members of the military."

As police directed car traffic outside, employees directed foot traffic inside.  Restaurant managers say Mondays typically bring in about 300 people.  However, on this Monday, they planned for more than 8 times that amount with 2500 people expected to come through the doors.

"We like to call it control chaos. You just have to prepare for it," says Savala.

The controlled chaos doesn't seem to bother those who came out to dine in.  They say it just means a lot when the community shows it cares.

"It's just really comforting to know that there are people that support us," says Liezel Sarte, active duty Air Force.

Restaurant managers say this Monday tradition following Veterans Day began at Golden Corral 10 years ago.

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