By Ginna Parsons
TUPELO – Henry Gooszen of Tupelo didn’t even know he was going to get a free lunch when he and some of his family happened into Sweet Peppers Deli for lunch on Monday.
“That was a very nice surprise,” said the 86-year-old veteran, who served in the U.S. Navy during World War II.
For the past several years, the restaurant has provided a free entree on Memorial Day to anyone who comes into the restaurant in uniform or with military identification, said Cory Fremont, general manager.
“It’s a free entree to any serviceman or servicewoman, past or present, veteran or active, as well as first responders, police officers, firefighters, paramedics – all the people who keep us safe,” he said.
“It really brought it home this year when we lost an officer in this town,” Fremont said, referring to Sgt. Gale Stauffer, a Tupelo officer gunned down in December. “There’s a chance for them to lose their lives or endanger their lives every day.”
Fremont said the restaurant typically provides free meals to 40 to 50 veterans or emergency service personnel each Memorial Day in Tupelo at the restaurant on West Main and at Sweet Peppers Express in The Mall at Barnes Crossing.
“It’s a great way for us to honor the people who keep us free,” he said. “What would our lives be like if we didn’t have a military?”