There is, in my opinion, no way to adequately reward all the brave men and women who sacrifice their lives to ensure our freedom and security.

But what we can do is pray for their safety, reach out to their families, and offer them our spiritual and material assistance.

Unfortunately, far too many former service members suffer in silence and are entirely ignored.

A table of younger men was nearby as this aging Vietnam veteran stopped for dinner at a restaurant.

Before the guys began to interrupt his meal at his table one by one repeatedly, he didn’t give it much thought.


Their behavior soon attracted the entire restaurant’s attention as the veteran began to sob.

Leo Zezoff / YouTube

When he was 74, Lou Zezoff and his wife Annette resided in Granite City, Illinois.

The couple was eager to spend quality time together one evening, so they dined at a Cracker Barrel. When Lou went outside, he was sporting his ‘US Navy Vietnam Veteran’ cap as usual.

Lou observed five men seated at a nearby table after the couple was seated in the restaurant.

He was unaware that the young men had also seen Lou and his hat, and they would go out of their way to ensure that he would never forget this evening.

Lou Zezoff with his wife Annette (Facebook)

The young men immediately acted upon Lou and his wife’s command. Lou was eating in silence when one of the young men approached and took a seat at his table.

As Lou and the young man met, Lou remembered, “I stood up.”

The young man extended his hand to express his gratitude for Lou’s sacrifice.

The gesture took Lou aback; such an event doesn’t typically occur in restaurants.

When the group members rose to their feet and expressed their gratitude, Lou felt the situation was over.

Lou said how he determined they were service members: “I knew they were military by their haircuts high and tight,”

Facebook / Lou Zezoff

These young lads were Marines, in actuality.

And, as I already said, it didn’t end with a handshake.

One stood up and moved over to Lou as soon as the first man returned to his table. The veteran stood up once more, not fully knowing what awaited him.

The second young man said, “I want to thank you for all five of us,” pointing to the others.

They briefly talked after Lou thanked the young men for their good sentiments.

Facebook / Lou Zezoff

Lou thanked the troops for their service and wished them well in their future military careers. After that, he assumed that was the end of the conversation and returned to his supper.

But once Lou and his wife had done eating, he motioned for a server to deliver the bill.

The waiter said, “This is your lucky day,” as he waved the bill at their table while grinning broadly.

The young Marines had purchased Lou’s meal.

The receipt also featured a note.

With an “Oorah!” near the bottom, one of the Marines had written “Semper Fi” over the top.

Facebook / Lou Zezoff

Lou approached their table and embraced one of the men, requesting that they not be required to pay for his dinner. He was utterly caught off guard. It was sufficient to say “thank you.”

“You don’t have to do this. I know, being in the military, you don’t make much money,” Lou told them.

But the Marines remained unwavering.

“They wanted me to know how much they appreciated me,” Lou said.

Another event occurred just as Lou and Annette were going to check out and stunned everyone else.

The young Marines wanted to give the veteran one more sign of respect as they were set to part ways.

The other four approached Lou’s table and extended their hands to shake the veteran’s for the final time while the fifth man was away settling the bill, he recalled, admitting he gets emotional just thinking about it.

One by one, they all said “thank you” and hugged him. Lous was crying once more as he talked about the incident.

“They filed in front of my table, stood in line, and each one of them again put his hand out, shook my hand, thanked me, hugged me, and walked to my right,” Lou recalled.

Facebook / Lou Zezoff

As diners observed the Marines’ behavior, the restaurant’s previously boisterous and lively ambiance was replaced with an unusual stillness.

The fourth Marine gave Lou “the sharpest salute” he had ever witnessed before, and then they turned and went away. The men’s outpouring of thanks for his service left Lou “awed” and filled with the deepest gratitude.

“The room got very quiet. Everyone was looking,” Lou said. Lou wiped a tear from the corner of his eye. “Sorry. Even now, recalling this brings tears to my eyes.

Some others stood and cheered.

Lou turned to his wife, who advised him to sit and collect his breath after the emotional occasion.

The scene made Lou’s wife, Annette, emotional.

“It just speaks volumes for the military. I thought of my son, who is retired Air Force, and the people who thank him for his service. It’s rewarding to see that the military is so strong and polite.”

Facebook / Lou Zezoff

According to Belleville News, the five Marines were later revealed to be private first class Kevin Morris, Val Diaz, Eric A. Morales, Victor M. Andrade Gomez, and Elijah Reynolds.

When the newspaper contacted them for comment, they only stated that it was the proper course of action.

“He fought for us. Now it’s our turn,” stated Texas-born Pfc. Diaz, age 21.

From 1959 until 1963, Lou Zezoff was a member of the Navy. Lou, an E5 (Petty Officer Second Class), served on the aircraft carrier USS Coral Sea in 1961 and 1962 while serving in Vietnam.

He was assigned to be a parachute rigger, but he flew a plane on the carrier. From pre-flight inspections to when the aircraft arrived back at the ship, he was in charge of it.

Lou worked as a police officer for 32 years after his military duty when he returned to the civilian world. In the 1970s, he trained as a detective. Later, he worked as a court security officer for the US Marshals Service before retiring in 1996.

Facebook / Lou Zezoff

The story by Lou Zezoff serves as a reminder of how crucial it is to express our gratitude to those who have served and how even a modest deed may have a significant impact.

Those young Marines’ performance at the restaurant undoubtedly left a lasting impression on this veteran.


The least we owe the brave men and women who put their lives in danger to ensure our liberties and protection is respect and gratitude. We owe our veterans a debt of gratitude for all they have sacrificed on our behalf.

They made significant sacrifices for our country, suffering separation from their loved ones and pain we can only understand.

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