Thankful Veterans making most of Memorial Day dinner

Thankful Veterans making most of Memorial Day dinner
Veterans dinner at the Salvation Army. (Source: Tucson News Now)

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - It was a meal served in memory. 244 dinner plates were passed out at The Salvation Army Hospitality House, near Speedway Boulevard and Main Avenue, on Memorial Day.

Veterans and their families, especially those less fortunate, showed up to sit alongside active duty members like Derrick Snyder and his two young children.

"It's important to us that our children see the other side," said Snyder, an Army National Guardsman, noting that his wife is on the administration at The Salvation Army of Tucson.

On a day like Memorial Day, as he sat among his fellow military men and women, he reflected on what the holiday is all about.

"It's not the meal, it's not the people, and it's not, unfortunately, the veteran homelessness. It is about those people I knew that are gone," he said.

Like Snyder, Army veteran Keith Lowery, who served from 1982-1986, is thanking those who came before him.

"Memorial Day is to honor the ones that didn't make it back and that died for us," he said.

On Monday night, he helped with dinner service.

"I've been helping out since I've been here. I don't mind helping anybody. I figured, it keeps me at ease," he said.

Lowery cooked in the kitchen and helped pass out plates, as he himself is building a life.

"It's like anything else. Man makes his own path. Go this way or you go that way," he said. "For Veterans, yes, sometime it's hard."

His path in Tucson began 23 days ago, after more than 30 years living in Las Vegas. He's getting a fresh start and welcoming the help. His nights in Tucson, so far, have been spent living in a bunk bed inside the Salvation Army's Hospitality House.

"There are a lot of services out there for veterans to take advantage of, if you want to take and use that service. I use every bit of it," Lowery said.

Corey Leith, Public Relations Director for The Salvation Army of Tucson, said homeless individuals and veterans come to them to get into a better situation.

"That's 365 days a year we're trying to put veterans into transitional housing," Leith said. "But when they come here it's more of a family. More of a community. When we have events like this they feel like they're part of a society again."

Lowery will transition to a new home of his own on Friday. Until then, at least Monday night, he's serving up joy.

"Freedom. I got my own," he said.

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