Flags decorated the table, a yellow ribbon hung on the door, and signs of gratitude served as a backdrop for one special diner at O'Charley's this evening.
The meal served as a "thank you" for one soldier's nine years of service, with three deployments in that time, including a recent tour in Iraq helping in the withdrawal of U.S. forces.
"There at the end it was a desert," said SFC. John Carolan about the base he was assigned to, "It was nice to finally hand it over to the Iraqis."
Just days back from Iraq, Carolan was seated at the head of a table, surrounded by family and other veterans from the local V.F.W., and said he was full of joy.
"This is the first Christmas I've gotten to spend with my family in a while, so this it's great to be back. I love it," said Carolan.
"I feel honored to serve him, today," described Larry White, Operations Director for O'Charley's.
For this Lexington soldier, a night out with his family was a special treat, but to be honored at O'Charley's, this evening, was a big honor.
"I wasn't expecting this at all," admitted Carolan.
"To see him celebrate and enjoy being home, it's great," added White, "I wish we could do this for everyone."
Still, Carolan is mindful of his blessings, that he gets to be home with family, while so many others continue to serve.
"There's still a lot of people left in Iraq, there's still a lot of people left in Kuwait, and tons of people in Afghanistan, still," said Carolan, "Hopefully, they all make it home to their families, too, that's what I hope for."
Tonight, this Kentucky National Guardsman set everything he has been through aside, and focused on enjoying the night with his loved ones.
O'Charley's says they've been serving veterans in each location across several states as a way to give back to those who give so much.