On Veterans Day, a VFW tradition

People & Places Nikki Tundel · ·

1 Tommy Johnson served in Korea. He's made it a tradition to spend part of Veterans Day at his local VFW in Hopkins, Minn. "I like to be with other veterans on Veterans Day," says Johnson. "On this one day, my family knows it's a 'let dad have his day' kind of deal." 
2 Whenever he visits the VFW, Tommy Johnson always makes it a point to stop by what's known as the Silent Table. The empty chair represents prisoners of war or those missing in action. The veteran says it reminds him of how fortunate he is. 
3 On the Silent Table is a lemon resting on a bread plate. It represents the "bitter fate" of the veterans who never returned home. 
4 For Tommy Johnson, Veterans Day lunch always consists of "that old military standby, 'SOS.' To put it politely, that stands for 'stuff on a shingle,'" Johnson said. He only eats the chipped beef entree "on special days, like Veterans Day. I'd never eat it any other day. I do it because it reminds me of my days in the military." 
5 Over the years, Tommy Johnson has seen the number of veterans at the Hopkins, Minn., VFW decrease. "The newer veterans are more into electronic communication. They can connect with each other over the Internet. We didn't have that so we always met face to face. And I still like to do it that way. There are some things you can only talk about with other veterans."