• Thu. Nov 24th, 2022

Thanksgiving Day and Celebrations for North Texas Veterans, First Responders

ByRobin H. Purcell

Nov 24, 2022

Fluorescent lights and Thanksgiving football complemented the smell of turkey, cherry pie and stuffing at the Statler Hotel.

“We feel right at home here,” said Misty Stratton, 27, as she huddled around a bar table with her family.

The Strattons of Arlington were among hundreds of families — all with military or first responder connections — who celebrated the holiday at the downtown Dallas hotel. Stratton and her father, James Stratton, 56, are both Air Force veterans. “Planes are in our blood,” remarked the elder Stratton.

The event was organized to honor those who serve others, said Chris Wrenn, vice president of operations for The Statler Hotel.

“For us here, thanksgiving means fellowship. It means unity,” he said. “It’s having a family you didn’t know you had. … Everyone in this room has always had a common goal of serving the community.”

According to the hotel’s website, this is the fifth annual Thanksgiving dinner. The Statler, Centurion American and Operation Forever Free planned to serve 198 families Thursday at the hotel’s Scout restaurant, Wrenn said.

“The veterans, the active service members, the first responders, these people not only deserve this meal, they deserve so much more,” Wrenn said. “Whether it’s the lonely veteran who has no family in town or the firefighter who has been on duty for the last two nights and didn’t have time to cook a meal, you can really see the gratitude in them.”

James Stratton said the event fostered a sense of camaraderie among fellow veterans.

“We just have a common background,” he said.

The Millers of Dallas — Army veteran Maurice, his wife Laura and their son Bobby — had no relatives in town for the holiday, so they headed to The Statler to make friends with other military families. The trio chatted over dessert about their shared hobby: pickleball.

Laura Miller said the relaxing, cozy celebrations are what the holiday is all about: being with family and being grateful.

Kelsey Banks, a Dallas police officer who worked Thursday, stopped by in his uniform to sit at a long table with colleagues.

“It would be nice to be with family,” he said, but he still enjoyed eating with his “work family.”

These nonprofit organizations serve Thanksgiving meals to those in need