The Statler hotel in downtown Dallas hosted veterans and first responders for a free Thanksgiving meal.
“This is really good,” Army veteran Naditia Williams said with a little surprise. “I don’t really like Thanksgiving food,” Williams said laughing. “I like the coming together, hanging out, and celebrating.”
Williams and her “family” of veteran friends and their children filled a table at the Statler’s Scout restaurant.
“Sometimes it’s just the small things,” Williams said. “You met great people and they become family. Especially when you’re in the military. You kind of create your own family.”
Robert Walker is a retired career Air Force veteran. He brought his wife and son.
“Since I started wearing this hat here,” Walker said pointing to his Desert Storm cap. “The people that just come up to you randomly and say ‘thank you for your service;’ you don’t expect it, but you sure appreciate it!”
At a nearby table, Navy veteran Charles Peoples sat alone at a table eating.
“It’s been two years since I’ve had a Thanksgiving meal,” Peoples said, lamenting how many restaurants near him closed during the pandemic. “I ain’t got no Thanksgiving meal and no family to eat with, you know.”
But Peoples noted he was surrounded by veterans.
“Being in the military, you always know there’s a group of people you can hang out with,” Williams said.
“We’re all in different parts of the city,” Parkland Right Care team member Nicole Walther said, sitting at a table of fellow team members from Dallas Fire and Dallas Police. “It’s nice to actually see my team members’ faces. We work in silos, kind of, in different precincts around Dallas. It’s nice to fellowship and see their faces.”
This was the fifth year the Statler hosted the event with the help of Centurion American Development Group and Operation Forever Free.