Every Veterans Day, businesses all over the United States offer discounts, parties and promotions to veterans thanking them for their service. Most restaurants will also offer a free meal or beverage as a thanks for fighting for this country.
While Chili’s participates by giving out a free meal in select cities, this past Veterans Day one veteran had his meal taken away when visiting a Chili’s in Cedar Hill, Texas. 47-year-old Ernest Walker was asked to leave Chili’s by a manager because they did not believe he was a veteran. Do you think this had anything to do with his skin color?
Walker was sitting in Chili’s with his service dog next to him and was waiting for his burger when he was approached by an old white man wearing a Donald Trump shirt. The man grilled him about his service and asked what unit he was in. When Walker answered, the man accused him of lying and told him that blacks were not allowed to serve in Germany.
He then complained to a manager saying he wasn’t really a soldier, even though he was wearing his army uniform when this all went down. Walker was stationed in Hawaii in the 25th Infantry Division and The National Archives and Records Administration verified that Walker served in the Army from 1986 to 1988. The old man also accused Walker of lying about his dog, Barack, saying that he was not really a service animal. The manager took it upon himself to relay the message to Walker, and then took the Trump supporters side.
Walker whipped out his cellphone to record the whole encounter.
"Barack had his red service vest on, and his certified service tags. I was sitting for 35 minutes prior with Barack beforehand. At this point I was grossly offended, embarrassed, dehumanized and started recording."
Seeing the posts on Facebook, Chili’s responded in support of Walker and was appalled that the manager behaved in such a way. Here is a statement from Kelli Valade, president of Chili's, after the incident. The manager was immediately fired.
"On a day where we served more than 200,000 free meals as a small gesture of our appreciation for our veterans and active military for their service, we fell short." Valade said.
Even though Walker had a tense encounter with the manager, he blames the the prodding of the Trump supporter for his actions.
"I do believe that the election has changed the hearts and changed the motives of people so much so that he believed in his heart and mind after talking to the Trump supporter that I was stealing food." Walker said.
Rob Franke, The Mayor of Cedar Hill also made a statement about the incident and insists that this is not what their town is about.
"My concern for the veteran is paramount, but we must also consider the manager and how he can become a better person and perhaps do better the next time he is put in a difficult situation," Franke said. "People do best and learn the most from experience. To learn requires patience and grace, neither of which can occur in the heat of emotion, demonstration, and anger."