A meal worthy of heroes

For those who have given so much for country and community, it was a rare opportunity for them to be served for once, as a sign of gratitude. A free breakfast provided Thursday was a simple way for several organizations in the community to say thank you to those who currently serve or have served.

Welcoming active and retired military, law enforcement, fire departments and EMTs, the Heroes Breakfast was held at Java Junction and Anthem House in Klamath Falls hosted by Country Financial, Basin Media and the Java Junction staff. It marked the second year in a row where the organizations have joined forces to show their gratitude to those who serve selflessly, drawing around 75 participants last year and at least double that this year.

Vietnam to Afghanistan

Veterans ranged from the Vietnam-era to Afghanistan, while many active duty military from Kingsley Air Base found time to stop by for a meal and happily mingle with police and first-responders throughout the day.

“The purpose of this is just to give back to those who did so much for our country and community,” said Tom Keller, a partner in the Klamath Falls Country Financial office. “This is just our way of saying thank you, it’s definitely something we will continue doing.”

On the menu were eggs, pancakes, bacon, orange juice and coffee, while all who attended received a free coffee mug upon entrance as a gift. The food and drinks were prepared by the Java Junction staff, with Country Financial covering the cost of supplies and Basin Media providing free advertising in the lead-up to the event.

“This is wonderful, I was here last year, too,” said James Surber, 77, a Vietnam veteran who served from 1960-1964. “It’s nice to get together with people who do work and devote their lives for other people. It’s a thankless job, so any thank you’s that we receive is more than appreciated.”

Sharing stories

The breakfast began at 8 a.m. and continued until 11, allowing a casual and friendly social atmosphere for veterans to share stories with active military and police to share a joke with firemen and EMTs. The turnout proved so popular that staff had to scramble to bring in more tables to accommodate the crowd, while many including Surber hung around long after their meal to enjoy the atmosphere and await presentations.

“Last year they gave a presentation for the oldest vet, and I missed out by just a couple months, but I think I got them whipped this year,” laughed Surber after looking around the room. Now sporting a big, bushy beard and long gray hair in stark contrast to the mandated fine-trimmed military appearance from when he served, Surber still finds great pride in this country despite the frustrations he still feels for how Vietnam veterans were treated upon return home. To keep his mind off of what he witnessed during the war, he rides Harley Davidson motorcycles and stays busy working on cars.

“For the people who devote their lives to others and in service to this country, they need more recognition,” Surber added. While one breakfast may not say it all, for one morning for those in the Klamath Falls area who serve or have served, recognition and gratitude for their service was received loud and clear.

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