Wednesday morning, Nov. 11, as local citizens prepared to honor the nation's veterans, Hy-Vee continued its own tradition of giving thanks to women and men who have and still are serving in the U.S. military.
From 7 to 11 a.m. that morning, breakfast was on the house at the Hy-Vee in-store dining area for veterans, past and present, from the Vermillion region.
"This is a tradition," said Ron Avery, manager of the Vermillion Hy-Vee. "We've been doing this for several years, not only here, but throughout our company in our eight stage region. This morning, we had 227 stores serving free breakfasts to all of our veterans."
Wednesday's free meals come on the heels of another significant gesture toward veterans from Hy-Vee's corporate office.
Hy-Vee announced plans in late September for another Honor Flight that took hundreds of World War II veterans to Washington DC to visit the World War II Memorial. The Hy-Vee-sponsored flight took place Nov. 4, just in time for Veteran's Day.
The Honor Flights are provided at no cost to the veterans attending.
"This is a small way to for us to say 'thank you' for the veterans' honorable service to our country, and to us," he said. "We just feel it is really important for us to do this as a company."
Avery clearly enjoyed himself Wednesday morning, greeting veterans and lending any needed assistance as they settled in the store's dining area for their free breakfasts.
"They're thankful, and I turn it back on them and say, 'we're thankful.' It's great just to stand here and listen to their stories. We've heard stories from World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, Afghanistan – we've heard them all this morning," he said. "The whole gamut – from the old all way to the young – have been here today."
As the clocked ticked closer to 10 a.m. Wednesday, many of the veterans began finishing their meals and their conversations with fellow veterans, friends and family over coffee. Many of them had an important appointment to keep – the community's Veteran's Day program scheduled that morning at the W.H. Over Museum.
"We'll serve over 200 veterans today. It's a good day for us.
"This is just a day for us to say, 'thanks,'" he said.